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Destiny Books 
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Destiny Books is a division of Inner Traditions International 
Copyright © 1960 by Ed itions Gallimard 

Originally published in French under the title Le Matin des Magiciens by Editions 
Gallimard, Paris 

This edition published in 2009 by Destiny Books 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form 
or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by 
any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from 
the publisher. 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 
Pauwels, Louis, 1920 Aug. 2- 
[Matin des magiciens. English] 

The morning of the magicians : secret societies, conspiracies, and vanished civilizations 
/ Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier ; translated from the French by Rollo Myers, 
p. cm. 

Includes index. 

ISBN 978- 1-59477-23 1-3 (pbk.) 

1. Occultism. I. Bergier, Jacques, 1912 - II. Title. 

BF1412.P3813 2009 
001.9 — dc22 

2008041767 


Printed and bound in Canada by Transcontinental Printing 

10 987654321 

Text design and layout by Priscilla Baker 


This book was typeset in Garamond Premier Pro, with Trajan and Throhand used 
as display typefaces 



To the fine soul, to the warm heart of Gustave Bouju, 
a worker, a realfather to me. In memoriam. 

L. P. 



CONTENTS 


Preface xv 

PART ONE 

The Future Perfect 

I. Salute to the reader in a hurry — A resignation in 1875 — Birds of 
ill omen — How the nineteenth century closed the doors — The 
end of science and the repression of fantasy — Poincares despair — 

We are our own grandfathers — Youth, Youth! 2 

II. Bourgeois delights — A crisis for the intelligence, or the hurricane 
of unrealism — Glimpses of another reality — Beyond logic and 
literary philosophies — The idea of an Eternal Present — Science 
without conscience or conscience without science ? — Hope 10 

III. Brief reflections on the backwardness of sociology — Talking 
cross-purposes — Planetary versus provincial — Crusader in the 
modern world — The poetry of science 17 

An Open Conspiracy 

I. The generation of the "workers of the Earth” — Are you a behind- 
the-times modern, or a contemporary of the future? — A poster 
on the walls ofParis 1622 — The esoteric language is the technical 
language — A new conception of a secret society — A new aspect 
of the "religious spirit" 23 



II. The prophets of the Apocalypse — A Committee of Despair — 

A Louis XVI machine-gun — Science is not a Sacred Cow — 
Monsieur Despotopoulos would like to arrest progress — The legend 
of the Nine Unknown Men 33 

III. Fantastic realism again — Past techniques — Further consideration 
on the necessity for secrecy — We take a voyage through time — The 
spirit's continuity — The engineer and the magician once again — 

Past and future — The present is lagging in both directions — Gold 
from ancient books — A new vision of the ancient world 41 

IV. The concealment ofknowledge and power — The meaning of 
revolutionary war — Technology brings back the guilds — A return to 
the age of the Adepts — A fiction writer's prediction, "The Power- 
House" — From monarchy to cryptocracy — The secret society as the 
government of the future — Intelligence itself a secret society — 

A knocking at the door 60 

The Example of Alchemy 

I. An alchemist in the Cafe Procope in 1953 — A conversation about 
Gurdjieff — A believer in the reality of the philosopher's stone — 

I change my ideas about the value of progress — What we really 
think about alchemy: neither a revelation nor a groping in the 
dark — Some reflections on the "spiral" and on hope 73 

II. A hundred thousand books that no one reads — Wanted: a scientific 
expedition to the land of the alchemists — The inventors — Madness 
from mercury — A code language — Was there another atomic 
civilization? — The electric batteries of the museum of Baghdad — 
Newton and the great Initiates — Helvetius and Spinoza and the 
philosopher's stone — Alchemy and modern physics — A hydrogen 
bomb in an oven — Transformation of matter, men, and spirits 79 

III. In which a little Jew is seen to prefer honey to sugar — In which 
an alchemist who might be the mysterious Fulcanelli speaks of 
the atomic danger in 1937, describes the atomic pile and evokes 
civilization now extinct — In which Bergier breaks a safe with a 
blow-lamp and carries off a bottle of uranium under his arm — In 



which a nameless American major seeks a Fulcanelli now definitely 
vanished — In which Oppenheimer echoes a Chinese sage of a 
thousand years ago 90 

IV. The modern alchemist and the spirit of research — Description of 
what an alchemist does in his laboratory — Experiments repeated 
indefinitely — What is he waiting for? — The preparation of 
darkness — Electronic gas — Water that dissolves — Is the 
philosopher's stone energy in suspension? — The transmutation • 
of the alchemist himself — This is where true metaphysics begin 99 

V. There is time for everything — There is even a time for the times 

to come together 110 

The Vanished Civilizations 

I. In which the authors introduce a fantastic personage — Mr. Fort — 
The fire at the "sanatorium of overworked coincidences" — Mr. Fort 
and universal knowledge — 40,000 notes on a gush of periwinkles, 
a downpour of frogs and showers of blood — The Book of the 
Damned — A certain Professor Kreyssler — In praise of 
"intermediarism" with some examples — The Hermit ofBronx, 
or the cosmic Rabelais — Visit of the author to the Cathedral of 
Saint Elsewhere — Au revoir, Mr. Fort! 113 

II. An hypothesis condemned to the stake — Where a clergyman 
and a biologist become comic figures — Wanted: a Copernicus in 
anthropology — Many blank spaces on all the maps — Dr. Fortune's 
lack of curiosity — The mystery of the melted platinum — 

Cords used as books — The tree and the telephone — Cultural 
relativity 131 

III. In which the authors speculate about the Great Pyramid — • 

Possibility of "other" techniques — The example of Hitler 
— The Empire ofAlmanzar — Recurrence of "ends of the world" — 

The impossible Easter Island — The legend of the white man — The 
civilization of America — The mystery of Maya — From the "bridge 
of light" to the strange plain of Nazca 139 



IV. Memory older than us — Metallic birds — A strange map of the 

world — Atomic bombardments and interplanetary vessels in "sacred 
texts" — A new view of machines — The cult of the "cargo" — Another 
vision ofesoterism — The rites of the intelligence 150 


PART TWO 

A Few Years in the Absolute Elsewhere 

I. All the marbles in the same bag — The historian's despair — Two 
amateurs of the unusual — At the bottom of the Devil's Lake 
— An empty antifascism — The authors in the presence of the 
Infinitely Strange — Troy, too, was only a legend — History lags 
behind — From visible banality to invisible fantasy — The fable of 
the golden beetle — Undercurrents of the future — There are other 
things besides soulless machinery 164 

II. In the Tribune des Nations the Devil and madness are refused 

recognition — Yet there are rivalries between deities — The Germans 
and Atlantis — Magic socialism — A secret religion and a secret 
Order — An expedition to hidden regions — The first guide will 
be a poet 179 

III. P. J. Toulet and Arthur Machen — A great neglected genius — A 
Robinson Crusoe of the soul — The story of the angels at Mons — 

The life, adventures, and misfortunes of Arthur Machen — How we 
discovered an English secret society — A Nobel Prize winner in a 
black mask — The Golden Dawn and its members 182 

IV. A hollow Earth, a frozen world, a New Man — "We are the enemies 
of the mind and spirit" — Against Nature and against God — The 
Vril Society — The race which will supplant us — Haushofer and 
the Vril — The idea of the mutation of man — The "Unknown 
Superman" — Mathers, chief of the Golden Dawn meets the 
"Great Terrorists" — Hitler claims to have met them too — An 
hallucination or a real presence? — A door opening on to 
something other — A prophecy of Rene Guenon — The Nazis' 
enemy No. 1: Steiner 


190 



V. An ultimatum for the scientists — The prophet Horbiger, a 

twentieth-century Copernicus The theory of the frozen world — 

History of the solar system — The end of the world — The Earth 
and its four Moons — Apparition of the giants — Moons, giants, 
and men — The civilization of Atlantis — The five cities 300,000 
years old — From Tiahuanaco to Tibet — The second Atlantis — 

The Deluge — Degeneration and Christianity — We are 
approaching another era — The law of ice and fire 199 

VI. Horbiger still has a million followers — Waiting for the 

Messiah — Hitler and political esoterism — Nordic science and 
magic thinking — A civilization utterly different from our own — 
Gurdjieff, Horbiger, Hitler, and the man responsible for the 
Cosmos — The cycle of fire — Hitler speaks — The basis of Nazi 
anti-Semitism — Martians at Nuremberg — The antipact — The 
rockets' summer — Stalingrad, or the fall of the Magi — The prayer 
on Mount Elbruz — The little man victorious over the superman — 
The little man opens the gates of Heaven — The Twilight of the 
Gods — The flooding of the Berlin Underground and the myth 
of the Deluge — A Chorus by Shelley 223 

VII. A hollow Earth — We are living inside it — The Sun and Moon 
are in the center of the Earth — Radar in the service of the Wise 
Men — Birth of a new religion in America — Its prophet was a 
German airman — Anti-Einstein — The work of a madman — 

A hollow Earth. Artificial Satellites and the notion of Infinity — 
Hitler as arbiter — Beyond coherence 243 

VIII. Grist for our horrible mill — The last prayer of Dietrich Eckardt — 

The legend ofThule — A nursery for mediums — Haushofer the 
magician — Hess's silence — The swastika — The seven men who 
wanted to change life — A Tibetan colony — Exterminations and 
ritual — It is darker than you thought 251 

IX.' Himmler and the other side of the problem — 1934 a turning 
point — The Black Order in power — The death's-head warrior 
monks — Initiation in the Burgs — Sievers' last prayer — The strange 
doings of the Ahnenerbe — The High Priest Frederick Hielscher — 

A forgotten note of Jiinger's — Impressions of war and victory 263 



PART THREE 


That Infinity Called Man .. . 

I. A New Kind of Intuition: The Fantastic in fire and blood — The 
barriers of incredulity — The first rocket — Bourgeois and "Workers 
of the Earth" — False facts and true fiction — Inhabited worlds — 
Visitors from Beyond — The great lines of communication — 

Modern myths — Fantastic realism in psychology — Toward an 
exploration of the fantastic within — The method described — 
Another conception of liberty • 280 

II. The Fantastic Within: Some pioneers: Balzac, Hugo, 

Flammarion — Jules Romains and the "Great Question" — The 
end of positivism — What is parapsychology? — Some extraordinary 
facts and experiences — The example of the Titanic — Clairvoyance 
— Precognition and dreams — Parapsychology and 
psychoanalysis — We reject occultism and the pseudosciences — 

In quest of machinery for sounding the depths 295 

III. Toward a Psychological Revolution: The mind's "second wind" — 
Wanted: an Einstein for psychology — A renaissance ofreligion — 

Our society is at death's door — Jaures and the "tree buzzing with 
flies" — We see little because we are little 306 

IV. The Magic Mind Rediscovered: The green eye of the Vatican — 

The "other" intelligence — The story of the "relavote" — Is Nature 
playing a double game? — The starting-handle of the supermachine 
— New cathedrals and new slang — The last door — Existence as an 
instrument — A new view of symbols — All is not everything 312 

V. The Notion of an "Awakened State": After the fashion of 

theologians, scientists, magicians, and children — Salute to an 
expert at putting spokes in wheels — The conflict between 
spiritualism and materialism: the story of an allergy — The legend 
of tea — Could it be a natural faculty? — Thought as a means of 
travel on the ground or in the air — A supplement to the Rights of 
Man — Some reflections on the "awakened" Man — Ourselves as 
honest savages 332 



VI. Three True Stories as Illustration: The story of a great 

mathematician "in the raw" — The story of the most wonderful 
clairvoyant — The story of a scientist of the future who lived in 
1750 344 

VII. The "Awakened"Man: Some Paradoxes and Hypotheses: Why our 
three stories may have disappointed some readers — We know very 
little about levitation, immortality, etc. — Yet Man has the gift of 
ubiquity, has long sight, etc. — How do you define a machine ? — 

How the first "awakened" Man could have been born — A fabulous, 
yet reasonable dream about vanished civilizations — The fable of 
the panther — The writing of God 35 3 

VIII. Some Documents on the "Awakened State": Wanted: an 

anthology — The sayings of Gurdjieff — When I was at the school 
for "awakening" — Raymond Abellio's story — A striking extract 
from the works of Gustav Meyrinck, a neglected genius 35 8 

IX. The Point Beyond Infinity: From Surrealism to Fantastic Realism 
— The Supreme Point — Beware of images — The madness of 
Georg Cantor — The Yogi and the mathematician — A fundamental 
aspiration of the human spirit — An extract from a story by Jorge 
Luis Borges 374 

X. Some Reflections on the Mutants: The child astronomer — A 

sudden access of intelligence — The theory of mutation — The myth 
of the great Superior Ones — The Mutants among us — From Horla 
to Leonard Euler — An invisible society ofMutants? — The birth of 
the collective being — Love ofthe living 385 


Index 


404 



PREFACE 


Physically I am a clumsy person and I deplore the fact. I think I would be 
a happier man if I had worker's hands — hands capable of making useful 
things, of plunging into the depths of nature to tap sources of goodness 
and peace. My adopted father (I always refer to him as my father because 
it was he who brought me up) was a journeyman tailor. He was great- 
hearted and possessed a truly questing mind. He used to say, with a smile, 
that betrayal by the intellectuals began with the first artist who depicted 
a winged angel — it is by our hands that we attain Heaven! 

In spite of my lack of manual dexterity I did once manage to bind a 
book. I was sixteen at the time, a student at a vocational class in a suburb 
of Juvisy. On Saturday afternoons we had the choice between wood and 
metal work, modeling, and book binding. Poetry was then my favorite 
reading, Rimbaud my favorite poet. And yet — after an inner struggle, 
I admit — I abandoned the idea of binding his Une Saison en Enfer (A 
Season in Hell). My father possessed some thirty books arranged in a nar- 
row cupboard in his workroom along with bobbins, chalk, shoulder pads, 
and patterns. There were also, in this cupboard, thousands of notes, which 
he had jotted down in his scholar's hand at a corner of his bench during 
innumerable nights working at his trade. Among these books I had read 
Flammarion's Le Monde avant la Creation de l'Homme (The World before 
the Creation of Man) and was just discovering Walter Rathenau's Ou Va 
la Monde? (Where is the World Going?). I set out to bind Rathenau's 
book, not without difficulty. Rathenau was among the first victims of the 
Nazis, and the year was 1936. So, each Saturday, I struggled over my task 
in the little workshop of the vocational school, and on the first of May 


xv 



xvi PREFACE 

I presented my father with the finished book, and a spray of lilies of the 
valley out of regard for him and the working class. 

My father had underlined in red pencil in this book a passage I still 
remember: 

Even the most troubled epoch is worthy of respect, because it is the 
work not just of a few people but of humanity; and thus it is the 
work of creative nature — which is often cruel but never absurd. If 
this epoch in which we are living is a cruel one it is more than ever 
Our duty to love it, to penetrate it with our love till we have removed 
the heavy weight of matter screening the light that shines on the 
farther side. 

"Even the most troubled epoch . . ." 

My father died in 1948 without ever having ceased to believe in cre- 
ative nature, without ever having ceased to love and to penetrate with his 
love the sad world in which he lived, without ever having lost the hope 
of seeing the light behind the heavy weight of matter. He belonged to 
the generation of romantic socialists who had as their idols Victor Hugo, 
Romain Rolland, Jean Jaures, wore wide-brimmed hats, and kept a little 
blue flower in the folds of the red flag. Just at the edge of pure mysticism 
on the one hand and the cult of social action on the other, my father (he 
worked fourteen hours a day at his bench: and yet we lived in near misery) 
succeeded in reconciling an ardent trade union activity with a search for 
an inner liberation. He had introduced into the humble actions demanded 
by his work a sort of method of concentration and purification of the 
mind on which he left hundreds of pages of notes. Stitching buttonholes 
or pressing cloth, his face yet bore a radiant expression. Every Thursday 
(a school holiday in France) and Sunday my friends would gather around 
his workbench to listen to him and to savor his strength, and nearly all of 
them felt their life changed in some way. 

Full of confidence in progress and science, believing in the coming 
to power of the proletariat, he had constructed a powerful philosophy for 
himself. The reading of Flammarion's study of prehistory had been a sort 



PREFACE xvii 


of revelation for him. Guided only by feeling he went on to read books on 
paleontology, astronomy, and physics. Although with little formal educa- 
tion, he yet managed to penetrate to the heart of these subjects. When 
he talked it was as if it might have been Teilhard de Chardin (whom we 
hadn't even heard of in those days): 

The experience of our century is going to be something consider- 
ably more than the birth of Buddhism! It is no longer a question 
of endowing such and such a god with human faculties. The reli- 
gious power of the Earth will undergo in us a final crisis: that of its 
own discovery. We are beginning to understand, and for ever, that 
the only acceptable religion for man is the one that will teach him 
first of all to recognize, love and passionately serve this Universe of 
which he is the most important element.* 

My father believed that the evolutionary process is not to be confused with 
selection, which is a purely superficial process, but that it is all-inclusive 
and ascendant, augmenting the "psychic density" of our planet, preparing 
it to make contact with the intelligences of other worlds, to draw nearer 
to the very soul of the Cosmos. For him the human species is not some- 
thing completed. By virtue of the spread of communal living and the slow 
creation of a universal psyche, it is progressing toward a state of super- 
consciousness. He used to say that man is not yet perfect and saved, but 
that the laws of condensation of creative energy permit us to nourish, at 
the cosmic level, a tremendous hope. And he never lost sight of this hope. 
It was from that viewpoint that he judged, serenely and with a religious 
dynamism, the affairs of this world, seeking far and high an immediate 
and truly effective optimism and courage. In 1948 the war was over, and 
new battles — atomic ones, this time — were threatening. Nevertheless he 
considered the disquieting and painful times to be no more than the neg- 
ative of a magnificent image. It was as if he were in communication with 

""Teilhard de Chardin tel que je I’ai connu" (Teilhard de Chardin as I knew him), by 
G. Magloire, in Synthhe, November 1957. 



xviii PREFACE 


the spiritual destiny of the Earth, and for the troubled epoch in which 
he ended his life of labor, and despite numerous personal setbacks, he felt 
nothing but confidence and love. 

He died in my arms during the night of December 31, and before 
dying he said to me: "One must not count too much on God. but perhaps 
God counts on us. .. ." 

How did things stand with me at that moment? I was twenty-eight years 
old. I was twenty in 1940 at the time of France's collapse. I belonged to 
a critical generation which had seen a world fall apart, which was sun- 
dered from the past and mistrustful of the future. I was certainly far from 
believing that our shattered world was worthy of respect and that it was 
my duty to penetrate it with love. Rather it seemed to me that a clear head 
led to refusal to participate in a game where everyone was cheating. 

During the war I sought refuge in Hinduism — that was my way of 
resisting, and I lived in absolute Resistance. 

Don't look for help in a study of history, nor among people — they'll 
let you down every time. Look for it in yourself. Live in this world with- 
out being of it. One of my favorite images was the Bhagavad Gita diving 
bird: "down, skim the water, and up — without having even wet its wings." 
Act in such a way that events too powerful to be modified by us will at 
least not affect us. I existed in a rarefied air, sitting — lotus fashion — on 
a cloud borne from the Orient. . . . When I had gone to sleep my father 
would quietly thumb through my bedside reading, trying to understand 
the source of my strange ideas, which yawned like a gulf between us. 

Some time later, just after the Liberation, I found a new master to model 
myself on and to live for. I became a follower of Gurdjieff. I worked hard 
to separate myself from all emotion, sentiment, impulse, hoping to find, 
beyond them, a state of — how shall I say it? — of immobility and of perma- 
nence, a silent presence, anonymous, transcendent, which would console me 
for all that I lacked and for the world's absurdity. I thought of my father 
with pity. I possessed the secrets ofcontrolling the mind; all knowledge was 
mine. In fact, I possessed nothing except the illusion of possessing, and an 
overwhelming contempt for those who did not share my illusion. 



PREFACE 


xix 


My father despaired of me. I despaired of myself. I steeped myself to 
the very bone in a position of refusal. I was reading Rene Guenon, and 
believed it was our disgrace to be living in a completely perverted world 
bent on the Apocalypse. The words spoken by Cortes to the Spanish 
Chamber of Deputies in 1849 became mine: "The cause of all your mis- 
takes, gentlemen, is your unawareness of the direction being taken by 
civilization and the world. You believe that civilization and the world 
progress. No, they go backwards!" For me our modern age was the dark 
ages. I spent my time listing the crimes committed by the modern mind 
against Mind. Since the twelfth century the Western World, having aban- 
doned the Principals, had been rushing to disaster. To have any hope, 
however small, was a betrayal. I had energy only for refusal, for the break- 
ing of contact. In this stricken world where priests, thinkers, politicians, 
sociologists, and manipulators of all kinds seemed to me like dung eaters 
the only dignified behavior lay in traditional studies and unconditional 
resistance to the spirit of the age. 

Looked at from such a point of view, evidently, my father appeared the 
veriest simpleton. His sense of belonging, of affection, of vision irritated 
me as something unbelievably absurd. The hope he placed in a growing 
communal life inspired by infinitely more than purely political motives 
incited my deepest contempt. My standards were those of the ancient 
theocracies. 

Einstein founded a "committee of despair" of atomic scientists; the 
menace of total war bore down on a humanity divided into two blocs. Yet 
my father died with his faith in the future intact; I no longer understood 
him. I do not intend to raise the problems of the existence of social classes 
in this book — it isn't the place. But I know very well the reality of these 
problems: they crucified the man who loved me. 

I never knew my real father. He belonged to the old bourgeoisie of 
Ghent. My mother, like my second father, came from the working class. 
It was the inheritance from my Flemish ancestors, sensualists, artists, lay- 
abouts, and proud, that separated me from a generous, dynamic way of 
thinking, forcing me into myself and into a misapprehension of the vir- 
tue of participation. The barrier between my second father and me had 



xx PREFACE 

already existed a long time. He who had never wished other child than 
me (who came of another's blood), solicitous for me, sacrificed much so 
that I should become an intellectual. Having given everything, he fell into 
the trap of thinking that we were kindred spirits. He saw in me a bea- 
con, someone capable of lighting a way for others, of giving them courage 
and hope — of showing them, as he used to say, the light within us. But 
I knew of no sort of light — except some sort of dark lamp, perhaps — in 
me or in humanity. I was simply one intellectual among a multitude of 
intellectuals. 

I pushed the conviction of being an outsider and of the need for 
revolt — ideas reflected in the literary reviews around 1947 when they 
wrote of "metaphysical disquiet” — to their extreme limits. Such ideas were 
the difficult heritage of my generation. How, then, to be a beacon in such 
circumstances? This typical Victor Hugo thought only caused me to smile 
sneeringly. My father reproached me with having sold the past, gone over 
to the side of the mandarins and those proud of their very powerlessness. 

The atom bomb, for me the sign of the end of everything, was for him 
herald of a new dawn: matter was spiritualizing itself and man was dis- 
covering in his surroundings and within himself completely unsuspected 
forces. The bourgeois sentiment, which sees this world as nothing but a 
comfortable habitation, was to be swept away in the gale of a new spirit — 
the spirit of the "workers of the Earth" for whom the world is a going 
machine, an organism in process of becoming, a unity to be achieved, a 
Truth to be realized. For him humanity is only at the beginning of its 
evolution. It has received only its primary instruction on the role assigned 
to it by the Intelligence of the Universe. We are only now beginning to 
understand the meaning of the phrase "love of the world." 

The human adventure had a direction for my father. He judged events 
as they moved or not in this direction. History made sense: it was leading 
to some kind of ultrahuman being and promised a superconsciousness. 
But this cosmic philosophy did not isolate him from his century. He was 
a "leftist" in his day-to-day living. This irritated me; particularly as I did 
not then understand that he put more spirituality in his progressiveness 
than I of progressiveness in my spirituality. 



PREFACE 


xxi 


I was suffocating within the closed system of my thinking; I some- 
times felt myself to be no more than a little, arid intellectual and envied 
him his large free-ranging thoughts. Evenings, sitting by his bench, I used 
to contradict him. provoke him, yet hoping inwardly that he would man- 
age to confound and change me. But, tired, he would lose his temper 
with me and with a destiny that had given him such splendid conceptions 
without giving him the means to pass them on to this child of another, 
mutinous, blood. We would quit each other in anger and sadness, I to my 
meditations and my literature of despair, he back to his work under the 
raw electric light that yellowed his hair. From my little bedroom I could 
hear his breathing, his mutterings. Then suddenly, between his teeth he 
would begin to whistle quietly the opening bars of Beethoven's "Hymn to 
Joy" — saying to me in my little bedroom that love will always find its way 
back. Each evening, around about the hour when we used to have those 
arguments, I think of him and I hear again those mutters which invari- 
ably terminated in song, in that sublime hymn. 

He has been dead twelve years. If I had understood then as I under- 
stand now I would have managed my intelligence and my heart more 
skillfully. Then, I was an incessant seeker. Now I have rallied to him after 
many often sterile and dangerous journeys. I would have been able, much 
sooner, to conciliate the attraction subjectivity has for me with an affec- 
tion for the world in all its movement. I would have been able to throw 
up — and perhaps with greater success in the vigor of my youth — a bridge 
between mysticism and the modern mind. I would have been able to feel 
myself at once religious and yet part of the great drive of history. Earlier, 
much earlier, I would have acquired faith, hope, and charity. 

This book sums up five years of questing, through all the regions 
of consciousness, to the frontiers of science and tradition. I flung myself 
into this enterprise — and without adequate equipment — because I could 
no longer deny this world of ours and its future, to which I so clearly 
belong. 

Yet, every extremity illuminates. I should have found a means of com- 
munication with my epoch more quickly, yet it may be that in approach- 
ing things in my own way I did not altogether waste my time. Men get not 



xxii PREFACE 


what they merit but what they resemble. I have always been seeking for, as 
Rimbaud expressed it, the "Truth in a soul and a body." I have not found 
it. In the pursuit of this Truth I lost sight of numerous small truths which 
would have made of me, certainly not the superman I yearned to be, but 
at least a better and more integrated person than I am. However, I did 
learn some things about the fundamental behavior of the mind, about the 
various possible states of consciousness, about memory and intuition — 
some precious things I would not have otherwise learned and which one 
day may help me to comprehend those things that are grandiose, essen- 
tially revolutionary, in the modern mind at its peak: its questionings on 
the nature of consciousness and the urgent need for a sort of transmuta- 
tion of the intelligence. 

When I came out of my yogi's retreat to take a look at the modern 
world — I knew of its existence, of course, but did not understand the first 
thing about it — I was immediately struck by its air of the marvelous. My 
backward-looking preoccupations, fed on pride and hate, had at least this 
useful result: I no longer saw this world from its bad side, from the point 
of view of a "beat-up" nineteenth-century rationalism, of a demagogic 
radicalism. They had also stopped me from simply accepting the world 
just because it was there, the place where I happened to live, in that semi- 
conscious way most people accept it. My viewpoint refreshed by the long 
visit I had made outside the frontiers of my period, I saw this world to 
be as rich in a real fantasy as I had supposed the traditional world to be. 
Better still, my fresh way oflooking at the modern world reacted back on 
and deepened my understanding of the ancient mind. Old and new, I saw 
both from a fresh angle. 

I met Jacques Bergier just about the time I was finishing my book on 
Gurdjieff's little group. Our meeting (something more than chance I have 
always thought) was to prove of great consequence. I had just devoted two 
years to a study of an esoteric school and my experiences in it. But new 
experiences were beginning for me and this is what I explained to read- 
ers of that book on taking my leave of them. With the story of a certain 
method of trapping monkeys in mind (a handful of nuts in a narrow- 



PREFACE xxiii 


mouthed gourd attached to a tree, the monkey slides in his paw, balls 
it into a fist around the nuts, and so cannot withdraw his paw, and is 
trapped) I wrote: 

Examine the bait by all means, test it with your hand, then dis- 
creetly disengage. Curiosity satisfied, return your attention to the 
world, resume your liberty, your lucidity, your place on the route 
leading into our world of Man. The important thing is to discover 
the extent to which the rhythms of the so-called traditional mode of 
thinking merge with the movements of contemporary thinking. At 
their present farthest limits physics, biology, mathematics touch on 
certain traditional concepts: certain aspects of esoterism, visions of 
the Cosmos, of the relation between energy and matter. Modern sci- 
ence, once freed from conformism, is seen to have ideas to exchange 
with the magicians, alchemists, and wonder-workers of antiquity. A 
revolution is taking place before our eyes — the unexpected remar- 
riage of reason, at the summit of its victories, and intuition. For the 
really attentive observer the problems facing contemporary intelli- 
gence are no longer problems of progress. The concept of progress 
has been dead for some years now. Today it is a question of a change 
of state, of a transmutation. From this point of view those concerned 
with the domain of the interior life and its realities are in step with 
the pioneering savants who are preparing the birth of a world that 
will have nothing in common with our present world of laborious 
transition in which we have to live for just a little while longer. 


And that is the precise argument we shall develop in this present 
book. Before launching into the undertaking I told myself that as a pre- 
liminary to understanding the present, one must be capable of projecting 
one's intelligence far into the past and far into the future. Formerly I had 
felt a dislike for those described as "moderns," but I had disliked them 
for the wrong reasons. They are to be condemned because their minds 
are occupied with so small a portion of the time scale. Scarcely have they 
arrived on the scene than they are anachronisms. Only a contemporary of 



xxiv PREFACE 


the future can truly be of the present. Even the distant past may be con- 
ceived of as an undertow tending toward the future. Thus interrogating 
the present from this point of view I received some strange but promising 
replies. 

The American writer, James Blish. wrote that Einstein's glory was to have 
swallowed Newton alive and kicking. An admirable formula! A prelimi- 
nary to any raising of our sights toward a higher vision of life is that our 
thinking should have absorbed — alive and kicking — the truths of the pre- 
vious level. This is the one certainty that has emerged from my studies. 
Does this sound banal? But when one has been living with methods of 
thinking that claim to be on the very peaks of human endeavor, such as 
Rene Guenon's wisdom and the Gurdjieff system with their contempt for 
the greater part of social and scientific reality, this new way of looking at 
things changes the intentions of the mind and its needs. "Lower things," 
said Plato, "will be found again in higher things — though in another 
form.” I am convinced that any advance in philosophy which does not 
vitally include in itself the realities of the level it claims to have super- 
seded, is an imposture. 

So I passed a long exploratory period in the domain of physics, of 
anthropology, mathematics, biology before making any attempt to fash- 
ion an idea of Man, his nature, his force, his destiny. Formerly I sought 
to comprehend the "totality of the concept Man" and was contemptuous 
of science. I suspected the mind's ability to scale the highest summits. 
And yet, what did I know of its advances in the field of science? Had it 
not there manifested its power in certain ways that I might be inclined 
to accept? And so, I reflected, the need is to surmount the apparent con- 
tradiction between the material and the spiritual. But was the scientific 
approach the way to achieve this? The least I could do was to investigate 
the possibility — a more reasonable attitude after all, for a twentieth- 
century man than undertaking a barefoot pilgrimage across India! The 
territory to be explored lay immediately around me. 

It was my simple duty to discover whether scientific thinking at its 
extreme limit resulted in a revision of the idea Man. I further decided 



PREFACE 


XXV 


that any conclusions I might henceforth come to about the possibilities 
of intelligence and the significance of the human adventure were to be 
retained only in so far as they did not run counter to the overall move- 
ment of modern consciousness. 

I discovered an echo of my attitude in Oppenheimer's reflection that 
nowadays our poets, historians, and philosophers are actually proud of 
their ignorance of anything to do with the sciences; our philosophy — in 
so far as we still have one — is anachronistic, completely out of step with 
the times in which we live. 

Now, for one whose intellectual muscles are in good condition it is no 
more difficult to attain to the attitude that has inspired nuclear physics 
than to appreciate Marxist economics or Thomism, no more difficult to 
grasp the theory of cybernetics than to analyze the causes of the Chinese 
revolution or the nature ofMallarme's poetics. Our mandarins refuse to 
make the effort not because effort as such intimidates them but because 
they prefer their present modes of thinking, their present values. 

As Oppenheimer suggested, a more subtle understanding of the 
nature of human knowledge and of Man's relations with the Universe is 
necessary and has been necessary for some time now. 

So I commenced my ransacking of the treasures of science and mod- 
ern technique, inexpertly, certainly; with an ingenuousness and a sense of 
wonder perhaps dangerous but yet productive of illuminating comparisons, 
correlations, and attunements. In this way I rediscovered some convictions 
concerning Man's infinite grandeur that I had held when I was immersed 
in esoterism and mysticism. But I found them wearing a new look. This 
time, these convictions had absorbed — alive and kicking — the style and 
drive of a contemporary intelligence, an intelligence bent on the study 
of realities. They were no longer backward looking; they smoothed out 
antagonisms instead of exciting them. Erstwhile massive antagonisms — 
the material versus the spiritual, individual versus collective life — fused as 
under a tremendous heat. So conceived they were no longer expressions of 
a choice (that is to say, of a rupture ), but of a becoming, an overtaking, of 
a renewing, so to speak, of existence. 



xxvi PREFACE 


The apparent incoherence of bees in flight, the dances executed by them, 
are, so it is thought, precise mathematical figures and constitute a lan- 
guage. I would like to write a novel wherein all the experiences of a life, 
the fleeting ones and the significant ones, chance ones and inevitable ones, 
would equally compose precise figures — would in fact disclose themselves 
for what they may well be: a subtle discourse addressed to the soul to 
help it accomplish itself: a discourse of which the soul comprehends, in 
its entire life, only a few disjointed phrases. 

There are moments when it seems that I comprehend the inner mean- 
ing of the human ballet surrounding me, that someone is speaking to me 
by means of this ceaseless movement of people approaching, people paus- 
ing for a second, and then moving away. And then I lose the thread, as 
who does not, until the next equally fleeting moment of illumination. 

At the time I left the Gurdjieff circle I had a very great friend in 
Andre Breton. Through him I met Rene Alleau, the historian of alchemy. 
One day I was looking for a scientific journalist to contribute to a cur- 
rent events series. Alleau introduced me to Bergier. (It was bread-and- 
butter work, and in any event science, popularized or not, interested me 
little.) This chance meeting was to shape my life for many years. Under 
its influence I rearranged and orientated the various intellectual and spiri- 
tual experiences which I had exposed myself to — from Vivekananda to 
Guenon, to Gurdjieff, to Breton — and found myself at the point where I 
had started: my father! 

Though dissimilar in many ways Bergier and I worked closely and 
happily together during five years of study and speculation, arriving 
at a point of view which I believe is novel and rich in its possibilities. 
This was how the surrealists worked thirty years ago. But unlike them 
we were exploring not the regions of sleep and the subconscious but 
their very opposites: the regions of ultraconsciousness and the "awak- 
ened state.” We call our point of view fantastic realism. It has nothing 
to do with the bizarre, the exotic, the merely picturesque. There was 
no attempt on our part to escape the times in which we live. We were 
not interested in the "outer suburbs" of reality: on the contrary we have 
tried to take up a position at its very hub. There alone, we believe, is the 



PREFACE xxvii 


fantastic to be discovered — and not a fantastic leading to escapism but 
rather to a deeper participation in life. 

Artists who seek for the fantastic outside reality in the clouds lack 
imagination. They return from their explorations with nothing more 
than counterfeits. As it is with rare minerals so with the fantastic; it has 
to be torn out from the very bowels of the Earth, from the heart of real- 
ity. True imagination is something other than a leap into the unreal. "No 
other aspect of the mind dives as deeply as the imagination." 

The fantastic is usually thought of as a violation of natural law, as a ris- 
ing up of the impossible. That is not how we conceive it. It is rather a mani- 
festation of natural law, an effect produced by contact with reality — reality 
perceived directly and not through a filter of habit, prejudice, conformism. 

Modern science has shown us that behind the visible there is an 
extremely complicated invisible. A table, a chair, a starry sky are in fact 
radically different from our ideas of them: they are systems in motion, 
suspended energy. . . . This is what Valery meant when he said that "the 
marvelous and the actual have contracted an astonishing alliance" in the 
modern mind. As we hope to show in this book the alliance between 
the marvelous and the actual is meaningful not only in the fields of 
physics and mathematics but equally, for example, in anthropology, con- 
temporary history, or sociology. That which is effective in the physical 
sciences should be fruitful in the humanities — but there will be diffi- 
culties of application. The humanities have become the last refuge of 
prejudice (as well the prejudices long since abandoned by the physi- 
cal sciences). Not only that, but in this field, still so fluid, there have 
been attempts to reduce everything to a system: Freud explains all. Das 
Kapital explains all, etc. When we say "prejudice" we are really saying 
"superstition." Just as the ancients were superstitious so are we. For some 
people every phenomenon of civilization finds its origin in the existence 
of Atlantis. For others Marxism has a complete explanation of Hitler. 
Some see the motive force of genius as the breath of God; others think 
it is sex. Our task then is to fashion this alliance between the marvelous 
and the actual in the individual and in social man as it already exists in 
biology, physics, and mathematics (which openly and quite directly refer 



xxviii PREFACE 


to such concepts as an "absolute elsewhere," the "forbidden light," the 
"quantity strangeness number"). 

As Teilhard de Chardin has stated, only the fantastic is likely to be 
true at the cosmic level. We believe that human phenomena must also be 
measured against the cosmic scale. The thinkers of antiquity said this. 
Our modern world, with its planetary rockets and its efforts to contact 
other intelligent beings, is saying it. So then, Bergier and I are no more 
than witnesses to the realities of our epoch. 

• A close scrutiny will show that our point of view — the extension of 
fantastic realism as it exists in the physical sciences to the humanities — is 
by no means original. Nor do we claim originality. The idea of apply- 
ing mathematical method to the sciences was not a particularly shattering 
one but its consequences were novel and important. The idea that the 
Universe may not be quite what it seems is not original: but see what 
Einstein did with that idea! 

It follows from our attitude that a book such as the present one, pre- 
pared with scrupulous honesty and a minimum of naivete, may well spring 
more questions than answers. A working method is not a system of thought. 
We do not believe that even the most ingenious of systems could completely 
illuminate life in its totality, which is our subject. You can work over your 
Marxism as much as you wish without managing to fit into it Hitler's con- 
viction that the Unknown Master had visited him on occasion. Manipulate 
the medical theories previous to Pasteur as you will: they have absolutely 
nothing to say about illness being caused by animal life too minute to be 
seen. Yet it is possible that there is an overall, final response to the ques- 
tions we are posing — and that we have not yet heard it. For Bergier and I, 
nothing is excluded, neither the yes nor the no. We have not discovered still 
one more Eastern sage; we have not become the disciples of a new Messiah; 
we are not expounding a doctrine. We simply propose to open the greatest 
possible number of doors to our readers, and as most of these doors open 
outward we have stood back a pace so that the reader may enter. 

Let me repeat: the fantastic is not to be equated with the imaginary. But 
a powerful imagination working on reality will discover that the fron- 



PREFACE xxix 


tier between the marvelous and the actual — between the visible and the 
invisible Universe, if you wish — is a very fine one. There may be other 
Universes parallel to our own. Indeed, perhaps this book would not have 
been written ifBergier and I had not on more than one occasion had an 
impression of being in contact — actually, physically — with another world. 
Bergier had one such experience when he was in Mauthausen. Something 
similar happened to me when I was a Gurdjieff disciple. In each case the 
circumstances were different but the essential facts the same. 

The American anthropologist Loren Eiseley, whose attitude is some- 
what similar to ours, tells a story which perfectly illustrates what I have 
been trying to say. 

He, too, believes that the impression of being in contact with 
another world is not always the result of a too-fertile imagination. 
People have had such experiences. Not only people, animals too! For 
the space of a moment the frontier dissolves; it is simply a question of 
being there at that moment. Eiseley was actually present when such an 
experience befell a crow. Although the crow was, so to speak, a neighbor 
of his it took good care to avoid all contact with humanity, keeping to 
the treetops and the upper air, keeping to its world. But one unusu- 
ally foggy morning our anthropologist was feeling his way to the sta- 
tion when suddenly, at eye level, two great black wings preceded by a 
cruel beak loomed up in front of him and then swept by with a great 
cry of anguish. The cry haunted Eiseley for the rest of the day; he even 
found himself before his mirror — wondering whether indeed he could 
be so repulsive a sight! And then the explanation for that terrible cry 
dawned on him. The frontier had slipped its position because of the fog. 
Suddenly, before the eyes of the crow (which reasonably believed itself 
to be flying around at its usual height) there surged up a fact contrary to 
nature — a man walking on air, in the very heart of the crow's domain. A 
veritable manifestation of the marvelous from the crow's point ofview: a 
flying man! Ever after, when it saw Eiseley making his normal way along 
the ground it would give little cries of distress, of regret for a Universe 
that could never be the same again. 



XXX 


PREFACE 


This book is not a romance, although its intention may well be romantic. It 
is not science fiction, although it cites myths on which that literary form has 
fed. Nor is it a collection of bizarre facts, though the Angel of the Bizarre 
might well find himself at home in it. It is not a scientific contribution, a 
vehicle for an exotic teaching, a testament, a document, a fable. It is simply 
an account — at times figurative, at times factual — of a first excursion into 
some as yet scarcely explored realms of consciousness. In this book as in the 
diaries of Renaissance navigators, legend and fact, conjecture and accurate 
observation intermingle. Lacking the time and the means we were not able 
to push our exploration far inland, so all we do here is suggest hypotheses 
and rough out a scheme for communication between those various regions 
which are still for the most part forbidden territory. Later, fuller investiga- 
tion may well make hay of some of our impressions, as happened to Marco 
Polo's narrative. We willingly face this eventuality, "There certainly were 
some howlers in that book ofBergier's and Pauwels!” So be it. But if it is 
this book that has inspired our critics to themselves take a firsthand look, 
we shall have done what we set out to do. 

The words of Fulcanelli might well have been ours: "I leave to the 
reader of these enigmatic notes the task of comparing, of coordinating 
versions, of extracting verity from its allegorical setting." 

However, our documentation owes nothing to esoteric masters, hid- 
den books, or secret archives. Vast it may be but it is accessible to every- 
one. But, so as not to weigh down the book too much, we have avoided 
a multiplicity of references, footnotes, and bibliographies. And some- 
times we have developed our argument by way of image or allegory — but 
always for the purpose of more efficiently making our point and never 
for the sake of that mystification beloved of the esoterists and which 
makes one think of the Marx brothers' story: 

"Say, there's a million bucks buried in the house next door." 

"There isn't a house next door." 

"No? Then let's build one." 

As I have said, this book owes much in its general theory and its docu- 
mentation to Jacques Bergier. Everyone who has met him and experienced 



PREFACE xxxi 


his extraordinary memory, his insatiable curiosity, his (a rare quality, this) 
invariable presence of mind, will at once believe me when I say that five 
years with Bergier have saved me perhaps twenty years of private read- 
ing. His brain includes a formidable library: selection, classification, com- 
plex cross-references take place with an electronic rapidity. Watching him 
thinking out a problem never failed to produce in me an excitation of 
my own faculties without which I would have found the conceiving and 
preparing of this book impossible. 

We brought together an imposing collection of books, reviews, 
reports, and newspapers in various languages, at an office in the rue de 
Berri in Paris and dictated thousands of pages of notes: quotations, trans- 
lations, reflections. The weekend we met at my place at Mesnil-le-Roi to 
continue our discussions, breaking off from time to time only to refer to 
some book or other. The evening I would spend in noting down our con- 
clusions, fresh ideas that had occurred to us, fresh lines of research. For 
five years I was at my desk every day at dawn (the greater part of the day 
being spent in bread-and-butter work). Things being what they are in this 
world we yet so stubbornly cleave to, the question of time becomes a ques- 
tion of energy. Had we had ten years before us, better working conditions, 
and a team of assistants, we would certainly have produced a vastly supe- 
rior book. One day (should we ever have the money, got from whatever 
source!) we would like to set up and direct an . . . institute, perhaps, is the 
word, to continue the studies here initiated. I hope this book may prove of 
sufficient worth to help us in that aim. As G. K. Chesterton has it. if an 
idea does not strive to express itself in words then it is an inept idea, and 
if words do not result in action it is because they too are inept. 

Both Jacques Bergier and I are caught up in a multitude of other 
activities — mine being very demanding. This despite the fact that when I 
was young I knew people who literally died from overwork; so, "How do 
you manage it all?" I don't know; perhaps these Zen words are some sort 
of explanation: "I go on foot and yet I am mounted on an ox." 

Difficulties, obligations to be met, obstructions of all kinds continu- 
ally rose up on every side to the point where I almost despaired. I am not 
one of those geniuses who pretend a vast indifference to everything not 



xxxii PREFACE 


to do with their work. My responses are large and wide; a concentration 
of passion, however splendid the result, strikes me as somehow being a 
mutilation. Agreed, if one participates in life to the full one risks being 
swamped. I fall back on a thought ofVincent de Paul: "The greatest aims 
suffer continuing distraction. Flesh and blood insist on abandoning the 
mission. Listen to them not. God, once resolved, does not change his 
mind whatever the occasional seeming to the contrary." 

When I was a student at Juvisy (I referred to this period of my life earlier 
in this preface) I one day had to comment on a phrase of Vigny: 'A life 
that has achieved itself is a dream of adolescence realized in maturity." At 
that time my dream was to serve and to deepen my father's philosophy 
of progress. After many retreats, side-trackings, and equivocation, this is 
now, finally, what I am trying to do. May my struggle bring peace to his 
ashes long since scattered in the thought that "matter is no more than one 
of the masks worn by the Great Visage." 



PART ONE 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


I Salute to the reader in a hurry — A resignation in i8j$ — Birds of ill 

omen — How the nineteenth century closed the doors — The end of science 
and the repression of fantasy — Poincare's despair — We are our own 
grandfathers — Youth, Youth! 

How can an intelligent man today not feel in a hurry? "Get up sir; you've 
got important things to do!" But one has to rise earlier every day. Speed 
up your machines for seeing, hearing, thinking, remembering, and imag- 
ining. Our best reader, the one we value the most, will have finished with 
us in two or three hours. 

There are men I know who can read with the greatest profit one hun- 
dred pages of mathematics, philosophy, history, or archaeology in twenty 
minutes. Actors learn how to "place" their voice. Who will teach us to 
"place" our attention? At a certain height everything changes speed. So 
far as this work is concerned. I'm not one of those writers who want to 
keep their readers with them as long as possible and lull them to sleep. 
I'm not interested in sleep, only in waking. Get on with it quickly; take 
what you want and go. There's plenty to do outside. Skip chapters if you 
want to; begin where you like and read in any direction; this book is a 
multiple-use tool, like the knives campers use. For example, if you're afraid 
of arriving too slowly at the heart of the subject that interests you, skip 
these first pages. You should understand, however, that they show how 
the nineteenth century had closed its doors against fantasy as a positive 
element in man and the world and the Universe, and how the twentieth 
has opened them again, although our morality, our philosophy, and our 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


sociology, which ought to be contemporary with the future, are nothing 
of the kind and remain attached to the out-of-date nineteenth century. 
The bridge between the era of muskets and that of rockets hasn't yet been 
built; but it's being thought about. And the object of this book is to make 
people think about it harder. If we're in a hurry, it's not because we're cry- 
ing over the past but are worried about the present, and getting impatient. 
There you have it. You know enough now to be able, if necessary, to skim 
through this introduction and push on further. 

His name is not recorded in the history books — unfortunately. He was a 
director of the American Patent Office and it was he who first sounded 
the alarm. In 1875 he sent in his resignation to the secretary of the Board 
of Trade. What's the good of going on, is the gist of what he said; there's 
nothing left to invent. 

Twelve years later, in 1887, the great chemist Marcellin Berthelot 
wrote: "From now on there is no mystery about the Universe.” To get a 
coherent picture of the world science had cleared everything up: perfec- 
tion by omission. Matter consisted of a certain number of elements, none 
of which could be turned into another. But while Berthelot in his learned 
work was rejecting the dreams of the alchemists, the elements, which 
knew nothing about this, continued to transmute themselves as a result 
of natural radioactivity. In 1852 the phenomenon had been described by 
Reichenbach, but was immediately repudiated. Scientists before 1870 had 
referred to a "fourth state of matter," observed in gases. Any kind of mys- 
tery, however, had to be suppressed. Repression is the right word; some 
nineteenth-century thinking ought to be psychoanalyzed. 

A German named Zeppelin, returning home after fighting with the 
Southerners, tried to get the industrialists interested in a dirigible balloon. 
. . . "Unhappy man! Don't you know that there are three subjects which 
can no longer be the subject of a paper submitted to the French Academy 
of Science: the squaring of the circle, the tunnel under the Channel, and 
dirigible balloons." 

Another German, Herman Gaswindt, had the idea of building flying 
machines heavier than air to be propelled by rockets. On his fifth blueprint 



PART ONE 


the German War Minister, after consulting the technicians, wrote, with the 
habitual moderation ofhis race and office: "How long will it be before this 
bird of ill-omen is finally bumped off?" 

The Russians, on their side, had got rid of another bird of ill-omen. 
Kibaltchich who was also in favor of rocket-propelled flying machines: a 
firing squad saw to that. It is true that Kibaltchich had used his techni- 
cal skill to fabricate the bomb that had just cut up into little pieces the 
Emperor Alexander II. But it wasn't necessary to execute Professor Langley, 
of the Smithsonian Institute, who had imagined flying machines propelled 
by the recently invented internal combustion engine. It was enough for him 
to be dishonored, ruined, and expelled from the Smithsonian. Professor 
Simon Newcomb proved mathematically the impossibility of a heavier- 
than-air machine. A few months before the death of Langley, who died of 
grief, a little English boy came back from school one day in tears. He had 
shown his companions the photograph of a design that Langley had just 
sent to his father. He declared that men would one day be able to fly. His 
comrades had laughed at him. And the schoolmaster had asked him how 
his father could be such a fool. The name of this "fool” was H. G. Wells. 

And so all the doors were closing with a bang. There was, in fact, 
nothing left to do but to resign, and Mr. Brunetiere in 1895 was able 
calmly to speak of the "bankruptcy of science.” The celebrated Professor 
Lippmann told one ofhis pupils, about the same time, that physics was a 
subject that had been exhausted and was finished and done with, and that 
he would do better to turn his attention in other directions. This pupil's 
name was Helbronner who later was to become the greatest authority in 
Europe on physical chemistry and make remarkable discoveries relating 
to liquid air, ultraviolet rays, and colloidal metals. Moissan, a chemist of 
genius, was forced to recant and declare in public that he had not manu- 
factured diamonds, but had made a mistake during an experiment. It was 
useless to seek any further: the great discoveries of the century were the 
steam engine and the gas lamp, and no greater human inventions were 
possible. Electricity? A mere technical curiosity. A mad Englishman, 
Maxwell, had pretended that invisible light rays could be produced by 
means of electricity: this couldn't be taken seriously. 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


A few years later Ambrose Bierce wrote in his Devil's Dictionary, "No 
one knows what electricity is. but in any case it gives a better light than a 
horse-power and travels quicker than a gas jet." 

As for energy, this was something quite independent of matter and 
devoid of mystery. It was composed of fluids. These fluids filled every- 
thing up, could be described in equations of great formal beauty, and were 
intellectually satisfying: they could be electric, luminous, calorific, etc. 
Here was a continuous and obvious progression: matter in its three states: 
solid, liquid, and gaseous; and the various energy fluids, more elusive even 
than gases. To preserve a "scientific" image of the world it was only neces- 
sary to reject as philosophic dreams the theories about the atom that were 
beginning to take shape. Planck's and Einstein's "grains of energy" were 
still a very long way off. 

The German Clausius maintained that no source of energy other than 
fire was conceivable. And though energy may be preserved quantitatively, 
it deteriorates in quality. The Universe has been wound up once and for 
all, like a watch, and will run down when the spring is worn out. No sur- 
prises are to be expected. Into this Universe, whose destiny is foreseeable, 
life entered by chance and developed according to the simple laws of natu- 
ral selection. At the apex of this evolution came man — a mechanical and 
chemical compound endowed with an illusion — consciousness. Under the 
influence of this illusion, man invented time and space: concepts of the 
mind. If you had told an official nineteenth-century scientist that physics 
would one day absorb space and time and would study experimentally the 
curvature of space and the contraction of time, he would have summoned 
the police. Space and time have no real existence; they are the mathema- 
tician's variables and subjects for philosophers to discuss at their leisure. 
There can be no connection between man and such immensities. Despite 
the work of Charcot, Breuer, Hyslop, extrasensory or extratemporal per- 
ception is an idea to be rejected with scorn. Nothing unknown in the 
Universe, nothing unknown in man. 

It was quite useless to attempt any internal exploration; nevertheless 
there was one fact that defied simplification: hypnotism. People like the 
naive Flammarion, the skeptical Edgar Poe, and the suspect H. G. Wells 



PART ONE 


were interested in this phenomenon. And yet, fantastic as this may seem, 
the nineteenth century proved officially that there was no such thing as 
hypnotism. Patients tend to tell lies and pretend in order to please the 
hypnotizer. That is true. However, since Freud and Morton Price, we 
know that there is such a thing as a split personality. Thanks to a gener- 
ally critical attitude this century succeeded in creating a negative mythol- 
ogy, in eliminating any trace of the unknown in man and in repressing 
any suggestion of mystery. 

Biology, too, was finished. M. Claude Bernard had exhausted its pos- 
sibilities, and the conclusion had been reached that the brain secreted 
thoughts as the liver secretes bile. Doubtless it would soon be possible to 
analyze this secretion and write out its chemical formula to fit in with 
the pretty patterns of hexagons for which M. Berthelot was famous. As 
soon as we discover how the hexagons of carbon combine to create mind 
the last page will have been turned. Let's get on with the job! and have 
all the madmen shut up. One fine day in 1898 a certain seriously minded 
gentleman forbade the governess to allow his children to read Jules Verne. 
These false ideas would only deform their young minds. The gentleman's 
name was Edouard Branly. He had just decided to abandon his experi- 
ments with sound waves as being devoid of interest, and take up the career 
of a general practitioner. 

Scientists have to give up their throne. But they also have to get rid 
of the "adventurers" — that is to say, people who think and dream and 
are endowed with imagination. Berthelot attacked the philosophers — 
"fencing with their own ghosts in the solitary field of abstract logic" (a 
good description that, of Einstein, for example). And Claude Bernard 
declared that "a man who discovers the simplest fact does a greater service 
than the greatest philosopher in the world." Science can only be experi- 
mental; without it we are lost. Shut the gates; nobody will ever be the 
equal of the giants who invented the steam engine. 

In this organized, comprehensible, and yet doomed Universe the place 
assigned to man was that of an epiphenomenon. There could be no Utopia 
and no hope. Coal deposits would be exhausted in a few hundred years, 
and humanity would perish by cold and starvation. Men would never fly 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


and would never travel through space. Nor would they ever explore the 
bottom of the sea. Strange that this ban should have been imposed on any 
investigation of the ocean depths! From a technical point of view there 
was nothing, in the nineteenth century, to prevent Professor Picard from 
constructing his bathyscaphe. Nothing but an extreme timidity and con- 
cern that man should "stay in his proper place." 

Turpin, who invented melinite, was promptly jailed. The inventors 
of the internal combustion engine were discouraged, and an attempt 
was made to show that electric machines were merely forms of perpetual 
motion. Those were the days when the great inventors were persecuted, 
isolated, and in revolt. Flertz wrote to the Dresden Chamber of Commerce 
that research into the transmission of the Hertzian waves should be dis- 
couraged, as they could not be used for any practical purpose. Napoleon 
Ill's experts proved that Gramme's dynamo could never function. 

As for the first automobiles, the submarine, the dirigible balloon, and 
electric light ("one of that fellow Edison's swindles"), the learned soci- 
eties were not interested. There is an immortal entry in the Minutes of 
the Paris Academy of Sciences recording the reception of the first pho- 
nograph: "No sooner had the machine emitted a few words than the 
Permanent Secretary threw himself upon the impostor (presenting it) 
seizing his throat in a grip of iron. 'You see, gentlemen,' he exclaimed, 
'what it is . . .' But, to the stupefaction of everyone present, the machine 
continued to utter sounds." 

Nevertheless, some great minds, profoundly discontented with the situ- 
ation, were secretly preparing the most formidable revolution in human 
knowledge in the history of mankind. For the time being, however, every 
avenue was barred. 

Barred in every direction — in front and in the rear. The fossils of pre- 
human creatures that were beginning to be discovered in large numbers 
were not taken seriously. Did not the great Heinrich Helmholtz prove 
that the Sun derived its energy from its own contractions — that is to say, 
its own combustion — from the only force existing in the Universe? And 
did not his calculations show that the Sun had not been in existence for 



PART ONE 


more than about a hundred thousand years? How, then, could there have 
been a long process of evolution? Moreover, it would never be possible to 
fix a date for the beginning of the world. In the short interval between 
two states of nothingness we human "epiphenomena" must be serious. 
Facts, facts! — nothing but facts! 

As their researches into matter and energy had met with little 
encouragement, the best among the inquiring minds turned to explore 
an impasse — the ether, a substance that permeates matter in all its forms 
and acts as a vehicle for luminous and electromagnetic waves. It is at once 
both infinitely solid and infinitely tenuous. Lord Rayleigh, who at the 
end of the nineteenth century represented official English science in all 
its splendor, formulated the theory of a gyroscopic ether — an ether con- 
sisting of a mass of spinning tops turning in all directions and reacting 
on one another. Aldous Huxley has remarked since that "if it is possible 
for a human invention to convey the idea of absolute ugliness, then Lord 
Rayleigh's theory has succeeded." 

Scientists everywhere were engaged in speculations on the ether on 
the eve of the twentieth century. Then in 1898 came a catastrophe: the 
Michelson-Morley experiment shattered the hypothesis of the ether. All 
the work of Henri Poincare bears witness to this collapse. Poincare, a 
mathematician of genius, felt crushed by the enormous weight of this 
nineteenth-century prison, the destroyer of all fantasy. He would have 
discovered the theory of relativity, had he dared. But he did not dare. His 
books — La Valeur de la Science, La Science et I'Hypothese {The Value of 
Science, Science and the Hypothesis ) — are expressions of despair and abdi- 
cation. For him, a scientific hypothesis is never true and can at best be 
useful. Like the Spanish inn — you only find there what you bring your- 
self. According to Poincare, if the Universe contracted a million times 
and ourselves with it, nobody would notice anything. Such speculations 
are therefore useless because they have no connection with reality as we 
perceive it. 

This argument, up to the beginning of this century, was cited as a 
model of profound reasoning. Until one day a practical engineer pointed 
out that the butcher, at any rate, would notice it, as all his joints would 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


fall down. The weight of a leg of mutton is proportional to its volume, 
but the strength of a piece of string is proportional only to its length. 
Therefore, were the Universe to contract by only a millionth of a degree, 
there would be no more joints hanging from the ceiling! Poor, great, and 
dear Poincare! It was this great thinker who wrote: "Common sense alone 
is enough to tell us that the destruction of a town by a pound of metal is 
an evident impossibility." 

The limited nature of the physical structure of the Universe; the non- 
existence of atoms; restricted sources of fundamental energy; the inabil- 
ity of a mathematical formula to yield more than it already contains; the 
futility of intuition; the narrowness and absolutely mechanical nature of 
Man's internal world; these were the things the scientists believed in, and 
this attitude of mind applied to everything and created the climate which 
permeated every branch of knowledge in this century. A minor century? 
No; a great century, but narrow — a dwarf stretched out. 

But suddenly the doors so carefully closed by the nineteenth century 
in the face of the infinite possibilities of man, of matter, of energy, of 
time, and of space are about to burst asunder. Science and technical skills 
will make enormous progress, and a new assessment will be made of the 
very nature of knowledge. 

Not merely progress, this, but a transformation. In this new state of the 
world, consciousness itself acquires a new status. Today, in every domain, 
all forms of imagination are rampant — except in those spheres where our 
"historical" life goes on, stifled, unhappy, and precarious, like everything 
that is out of date. An immense gulf separates the man of adventure from 
humanity, and our societies from our civilization. We are living with ideas 
of morality, sociology, philosophy, and psychology that belong to the nine- 
teenth century. We are our own great-great-grandfathers. As we watch 
rockets rising to the sky and feel the ground vibrating with a thousand 
new radiations, we are still smoking the pipe of Thomas Graindorge. Our 
literature, our philosophical discussions, our ideological conflicts, our atti- 
tude toward reality — all this is still slumbering behind the doors that have 
been burst open. Youth! Youth! — go forth and tell the world that every- 
thing is opened up and already the Outside has come in! 



PART ONE 


Bourgeois delights — A crisis for the intelligence, or the hurricane of 
unrealism — Glimpses of another reality — Beyond logic and literary 
philosophies — The idea of an Eternal Present — Science without conscience 
or conscience without science ? — Hope 

"The Countess had her tea at five o'clock": Valery said something to the 
effect that that kind of thing could not be written by anyone who had 
gained an entrance to the world of ideas, a thousand times stronger, more 
romantic and more real than the world of the heart and senses. "Anthony 
loved Mary who loved Paul; they were very unhappy and had lots oflittle 
nothings." A whole literature! — to describe the palpitations of a mass of 
amoeba and infusoria, whereas human Thought gives rise to tragedies 
and gigantic dramas, transmutes human beings, alters the course of whole 
civilizations, and enrolls in its service vast sections of the human race. 
As to soporific pleasure and bourgeois delights — we workers of the earth, 
devotees of intellectual enlightenment, are well aware of all that they con- 
tain in the way of insignificance, decadence, and rottenness. 

At the end of the nineteenth century the "bourgeois" theater and 
novel were in their heyday, and for a time the literary generation of 1885 
paid homage to Anatole France and Paul Bourget. 

Nevertheless, about the same time, a much more important and excit- 
ing drama than any in which the characters of Divorce or Le Lys Rouge 
(The Red Lily) were involved was being played out in the sphere of pure 
knowledge. The dialogue between materialism and spiritualism, science 
and religion, suddenly entered on a new and exciting phase. 

The scientists, who had inherited the positivism ofTaine and Renan,* 
were confronted with staggering discoveries that were to demolish the 
strongholds of incredulity. Where hitherto only a reality that was well 
vouched for could be believed in. suddenly the unreal became a possibil- 
ity, and things were viewed from the standpoint of a romantic intrigue, 
with the transformation of characters, the intrusion of traitors, conflict- 
ing passions and illusory discussions. 

* [Historian Hippolyte Taine and philosopher Ernst Renan — Ed.] 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


11 


The principle of the conservation of energy was established as a cer- 
tainty, solid as a rock. And yet here was radium, producing energy with- 
out acquiring it from any source. No one doubted that light and electricity 
were identical: they could only proceed in a straight line and were inca- 
pable of traversing any obstacle. And yet here were X-rays that could go 
through solid objects. In the discharge tubes matter seemed to disappear or 
be transformed into particles of energy. The transmutation of the elements 
was taking place in nature: radium turns into helium or lead. And so the 
Temple of Consecrated Beliefs is ready to collapse; Reason no longer reigns 
supreme! It seemed that anything was possible. The scientists who were 
supposed to have the monopoly of knowledge suddenly ceased to make a 
distinction between physics and metaphysics — between fact and fantasy. 
The pillars of the Temple dissolve into clouds, and the High Priests of 
Descartes are dumbfounded. If the theory of the conservation of energy 
is false, what is there to prevent a medium from manufacturing an ecto- 
plasm out of nothing? If magnetic waves can traverse the earth, why should 
thought transmission not be possible? If all known bodies emit invisible 
forces, why should there not be astral bodies? If there is a fourth dimen- 
sion, could this be the spirits' world? 

Madame Marie Curie, Sir William Crookes, and Oliver Joseph Lodge 
go in for table turning; Thomas Edison tries to construct a machine for 
communicating with the dead. Guglielmo Marconi, in 1901, thought he had 
intercepted messages from Mars. Simon Newcomb was not surprised when 
a medium materialized seashells fresh from the Pacific. The seekers after 
reality are bowled over by strong blasts of the fantastic and the unreal. 

But the stalwarts, the Old Guard, endeavor to stem the flood. The 
Positivists, in the name of Truth and of Reality, reject everything en bloc: 
X-rays, ectoplasms, atoms, spirits of the dead, the fourth phase of matter, 
and the idea of there being inhabitants on Mars. 

And so begins a conflict between fantasy and reality — a conflict 
often seemingly absurd, blind and confused, but one that will soon have 
repercussions on all forms of thought in every sphere: literature, sociology, 
philosophy, morals, and aesthetics. But in the physical sciences order will 
be reestablished, not through retreat or the whittling down of claims, but 



12 


PART ONE 


thanks to fresh advances. A new conception of physics takes shape, due to 
the efforts of titans such as Langevin, Perrin, Einstein. A new science is 
born less dogmatic than the old one. Doors are opened onto a different 
kind of reality. As in all great novels, in the end there are neither good nor 
bad characters, and all the heroes are right so long as the novelist's ideas 
are directed toward a complementary dimension where all their destinies 
converge and become one, and are raised, together, to a higher level. 

How do we stand today? Doors have been thrown open in almost all the 
strongholds of science, but that of physics has lost almost all its walls to 
become a cathedral entirely built of glass wherein can be seen the reflec- 
tions of another world infinitely near. 

Matter has been shown to be as rich, if not richer in possibilities 
than the spirit. The energy it contains is incalculable; its resources can 
only be guessed at; it can undergo an infinite number of transformations. 
The term "materialist" in its nineteenth-century connotation has become 
meaningless; and so has the expression "rationalist." The logic of "com- 
mon sense" is no longer valid. In the new physics a proposition can be 
both true and false. A.B. no longer equals B.A. An entity can be at once 
continuous and discontinuous. Physics can no longer be relied on to deter- 
mine what is or is not possible. One of the most astonishing signs of the 
breach that has been made in the domain of physics is the introduction of 
what has been called the "strangeness quantum number." What has hap- 
pened is roughly as follows. At the beginning of the nineteenth century it 
was believed, somewhat naively, that two, or at most three, numbers were 
enough to define a particle, referring respectively to its mass, its electric 
charge, and its magnetic moment. This turned out to be very far from the 
truth. In order to define completely a particle, another dimension, which 
cannot be expressed in words, had to be allowed for. known as spin. It 
was believed at first that this "dimension" corresponded to a period in 
the particle's rotation on itself, rather like the period of twenty-four hours 
which, in the case of the planet Earth, regulates the alternation of night 
and day. However, it soon became clear that the explanation could not 
possibly be as simple as that. The spin was simply the spin — a quantity of 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


energy connected with the particle, envisaged mathematically as a rota- 
tion. although nothing whatever within the particle actually turns. 

In spite of erudite research carried out, notably by Professor Louis de 
Broglie, the mystery of the spin has only been partially explained. Then 
suddenly the discovery was made that among the three known particles — 
protons, electrons, and neutrons (and their mirror reflections, the nega- 
tive antiproton, positron, and antineutron) there were at least thirty other 
particles. The cosmic rays, the great accelerators, produced them in enor- 
mous quantities. But to describe these particles the three numbers used 
hitherto — mass, "charge," "magnetic moment” — no longer sufficed. It was 
necessary to create a fourth, perhaps a fifth number, or even more. And 
so, quite naturally, the physicists called these new dimensions "strangeness 
quantum numbers." There is something supremely poetic about this salute 
to the angel of the bizarre. Like many other expressions used in modern 
physics — "forbidden radiation," "absolute elsewhere" — "strangeness quan- 
tum number” has overtones which seem to go beyond physics to rejoin 
the more profound regions of the human mind. 

Take a sheet of paper. Pierce two holes in it, close together. Obviously, 
common sense tells us, an object small enough to go through these holes 
will go through either one or the other. By the same criterion, an electron is 
an object. It has a definite weight and produces a ray oflight when it strikes 
a television screen and a shock when it hits a microphone. Here we have, 
then, an object small enough to go through one of our two holes. Now, the 
electron microscope will tell us that the electron has gone through both 
holes at the same time. What? If it has gone through one. it can't have gone 
through the other at the same time. But indeed it has gone through both. It 
sounds crazy, but the experiment has been made. Attempts to explain it have 
led to the formulation of various theories, notably that of wave mechanics. 
But this theory is still not a complete explanation of a fact that defies rea- 
son, which can only function in terms of Yes or No, A or B. In order to 
understand it, the very structure of our reason will have to be changed. Our 
philosophy is based on thesis and antithesis. But it looks as if, in the phi- 
losophy of the electron, thesis and antithesis are both true at the same time. 
Are we talking about absurdities? The electron seems to obey laws, and 



14 


PART ONE 


television, for example, is a reality. Does the electron exist, or not? What 
nature calls existence is not existence in our eyes. Is an electron something 
or nothing? The question is meaningless. And so, at the extreme limits of 
knowledge, our normal methods of thought and the "literary" philosophies, 
born of an outdated outlook on the world, simply disappear. 

The earth is part of the Universe; Man is not only in contact with the 
planet he inhabits. Cosmic rays, radio astronomy, and theoretical phys- 
ics reveal the contacts he has with the Cosmos as a whole. We no longer 
live in a closed world, as no intelligent person in tune with our times 
can have failed to notice. How, then, in these circumstances, is it pos- 
sible for a thinking man to be still preoccupied with problems that are 
not even planetary, but narrowly regional and provincial? And how can 
our psychology, as revealed in works of fiction, remain so enclosed and 
confined to the analysis of the subconscious impulses of human sensual- 
ity and sentimentality ? While millions of civilized people read books and 
go to the cinema or the theater to see how Francoise can be in love with 
Rene and yet, through her hatred of her father's mistress, revenge herself 
by becoming a lesbian, there are scientists, making a celestial music out of 
mathematics, who are speculating as to whether space does not contract 
around a vehicle. The whole Universe would then be accessible: one could 
visit the farthest star in the space of a lifetime. If equations like these 
could be verified, human thinking would be revolutionized. If mankind 
is no longer confined to this Earth, new questions will have to be asked 
with regard to the deeper aspects of Initiation and the possibility of mak- 
ing contact with intelligent beings from Beyond. 

What, then, is our position today? As regards research into the 
structure of space and time, our notions of past and future are no longer 
valid. Where particles are concerned, time travels in the two directions 
simultaneously — past and future. At very high speeds, at the velocity 
of light, for example, where does time come in? We are in London in 
October 1944. A V2 rocket traveling at 3,107 miles per hour is over 
the city. It is about to fall. But to what does this "about to" apply? As 
regards the occupants of the house, which in a moment will be destroyed 
and who have only their eyes and ears, the V2 is, indeed, "about to" fall. 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


15 


But from the point of view of the radar operator, using waves traveling 
at 186,411 miles per second (a speed which makes the rocket appear to 
be crawling) the trajectory of the bomb is already traced. He can only 
watch; there is nothing he can do. Humanly speaking, nothing can now 
intercept the engine of death; no warning can be given. In the eyes of 
the operator the rocket has already crashed. At the speed of radar, time 
is practically nonexistent. The occupants of the house are "about to die"; 
in the radar's eye they are already dead. 

Another example: when the cosmic rays reach the Earth's surface, they 
are found to contain particles, the fz mesons which live on Earth only for 
a millionth of a second, destroying themselves by radioactivity. Now, these 
particles are born nineteen miles up in the air when the atmosphere of our 
planet is beginning to be dense. So, by the time they have covered this dis- 
tance, they have already exceeded their life span by our reckoning. But their 
time is not ours. Their, journey was made in eternity, and they only entered 
time when they lost their energy on arriving at sea level. Apparatus, it is 
thought, could be built to reproduce these conditions. In this way drawers 
of time, as it were, could be created in which objects enjoying only a brief 
span of life would be placed and preserved in the fourth dimension. This 
receptacle would be a hollow glass ring placed in a field of intense energy 
in which the particles would rotate so rapidly that for them time would 
practically have ceased to exist. A life span of a millionth of a second might 
thus be maintained and observed for minutes, or even hours.. .. 

"It must not be supposed that past time vanishes into the void; time 
is one and eternal, of which past, present, and future are only different 
aspects — different 'pressings,' if you like — of a continuous, invariable 
recording of perpetual existence." 

The modern disciples of Einstein recognize nothing but an eternal 
present, which was also what the ancient mystics believed. If the future 
exists already, then precognition is a fact. The whole trend of advanced 
knowledge is to place the laws of physics, and biology and psychology as 
well, in a four-dimensional continuum — that is to say. in the eternal pres- 
ent. Past, present, and future are. Perhaps it is only our consciousness that 
moves. For the first time, consciousness is admitted in its own right into 



16 


PART ONE 


the equations of theoretical physics. In this eternal present, matter appears 
as a slender thread stretched between past and future. Along this thread 
glides human consciousness. By what means is it able to modify the ten- 
sions of this thread so as to have an influence on events? One day we shall 
know, and psychology will then become a branch of physics. 

And no doubt there is a place for freedom within this eternal present. 
"The traveler in a boat on the Seine knows in advance what bridges he 
will encounter. He nonetheless has freedom of action and is capable of 
foreseeing anything that could happen en route."* 

Freedom to become in the midst of an eternity which is\ A double 
vision, an admirable vision of human destiny bound up with that of the 
whole Universe! 

If I had my life to live again I should certainly not choose to be a 
writer and spend my days in a backward society where adventure is kept 
under the bed like a dog. I should want a lionlike adventure: I would go in 
for theoretical physics in order to live at the very heart of true romance. 

The new world of physics explicitly contradicts the philosophies of 
despair and nonsense. Science without conscience spells ruin for the soul. 
But conscience without science means ruin too. 

These philosophies which were all the rage in Europe in the twentieth 
century were nothing but phantoms of nineteenth-century creeds dressed 
up in the new fashions. Real, objective knowledge in the field of technol- 
ogy and science, which sooner or later englobes the domain of sociology, 
teaches us that the history of mankind follows a definite path, accompa- 
nied by an increase in man's powers, a rise in the general level of intelli- 
gence and a compulsive force which acts on the masses transforming them 
into active thinkers and giving them access to a civilization where life will 
be as much superior to ours as ours is now to that of the animals. The 
literary philosophers had been telling us that man is incapable of under- 
standing the world. Andre Maurois in Les Nouveaux Discours du Docteur 
O'Grady {The Return of Doctor O'Grady) for example, wrote as follows: 


*R. P. Dubarle, in a broadcast discussion, April 12, 1957. 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


17 


Yet you will admit. Doctor, that nineteenth-century man believed 
that science would one day be able to explain the Universe. Renan, 
Berthelot, Taine, early in their lives, hoped that this would come 
about. Twentieth-century man has no such hopes. He knows that 
discoveries only make the mystery deeper. As to progress, we have 
seen how man, with all his powerful resources, has only succeeded 
in producing famine, terror, disorder, torture, and contusion in the 
mind. What hope is there left? Why do you go on living, Doctor? 

In point of fact, however, the problem could no longer be stated in these 
terms. Though the protagonists in this discussion were unaware of it. the 
circle was already closing around the mystery, and the "progress" so bitterly 
decried was opening the gates of Heaven. We do not turn to Berthelot or 
Taine for enlightenment on the future of mankind, but rather to men 
like Teilhard de Chardin. At a recent discussion between representatives 
of the various scientific disciplines the following idea was put forward: 
one day, perhaps, the ultimate secrets of the elementary particles will be 
revealed to us by what takes place deep down in the brain, for it is here 
that the most complex reactions in our region of the Universe are finally 
registered, and the brain, no doubt, contains in itself the laws which gov- 
ern the most profound mysteries of this region. The world is not absurd, 
and the mind is surely not incapable of understanding it. On the contrary; 
it may well be that the human mind has already understood the world, but 
doesn't know that — yet. 


Brief reflections on the backwardness of sociology — Talking 
cross-purposes — Planetary versus provincial — Crusader in the 
modern world — The poetry of science 

The outlook in modern physics, mathematics and biology is limit- 
less. Sociology, on the other hand, is barred from new horizons by the 



IS 


PART ONE 


monuments of the last century. I remember how astonished and dis- 
appointed we were, Jacques Bergier and myself, in 1957 when we were 
following the correspondence between the celebrated Soviet economist 
Eugene Varga and the American magazine Fortune. This luxurious pub- 
lication expounds the views of an enlightened capitalism. Varga is an 
intelligent writer, and is respected by the powers that be. A public dis- 
cussion between two such authorities might have done much, one would 
have thought, to bring about a better understanding of the times we live 
in. In the event, however, it proved a ghastly failure. 

Mr. Varga stuck faithfully to his gospel. Karl Marx had predicted the 
inevitable collapse of capitalism, and Mr. Varga thought this collapse was 
imminent. The fact that the economic situation of the United States was 
steadily improving and that the great problem from now on would be 
how the workers' leisure time could best be employed had escaped the 
notice of this theoretician who, in these days of radar, was still looking at 
the world through Karl's spectacles. 

The idea that the predicted collapse might not happen according to 
the prearranged schedule, and that it was possible that a new society was 
coming into being across the Atlantic did not for a moment enter his head. 
Neither did the editor of Fortune, for his part, foresee any change in the 
structure of society in the U.S.S.R.,* and made it clear that the America 
of 1957 was the expression of a perfect and unchangeable ideal. All that 
the Russians could hope for was to attain, if they behaved themselves, a 
similar state of perfection in a century, or a century and a half. Nothing 
worried or disturbed the theoretical adversaries of Mr. Varga — not even 
the multiplicity of new cults springing up everywhere in American intel- 
lectual circles (Oppenheimer, Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard, Henry 
Miller, and many others seduced by ancient Oriental philosophies) nor 
yet the existence in the great cities of millions of young "rebels without a 
cause” going about in gangs, nor yet again the twenty million individuals 
unable to support modern life without absorbing drugs as dangerous as 
morphine and opium. The problem of finding a purpose in life did not 


'[Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from 1945 until dissolution in 1991. — Ed.] 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


seem to exist for them. When all American families possess two cars, they 
will then have to buy a third. When the market for television sets is satu- 
rated. motorcars will have to be equipped with them. 

And yet, compared to French sociologists, economists and thinkers, 
Mr. Eugene Varga and the editors of Fortune are more advanced. They 
are not paralyzed by the complex of decadence. They do not indulge in 
morbid pleasures, or believe that the world is absurd and life not worth 
living. They firmly believe in the virtues of progress, and are confident 
that man's domination over nature will increase indefinitely. They have 
energy and a certain grandeur, and their outlook is broad, if not very 
elevated. To say that Mr. Varga is in favor of free enterprise and the edi- 
tors of Fortune are all progressists might seem outrageous; and yet, from 
a strictly doctrinal, European point of view, it is true. Mr. Varga is not a 
communist; Fortune is not capitalist, according to our narrow, provincial 
ideas. What the Russian and the American in this case have in common 
is ambition, the will to power and an unshakeable optimism. These are 
the forces at work in science and technology, which will demolish the old 
sociological order established in the nineteenth century. Even ifWestern 
Europe became involved in and was destroyed by some Byzantine struggle 
(which God forbid!) the forward march of humanity would still go on, 
bursting open the old structure of society and setting up a new form of 
civilization between the two new poles of militant thought represented by 
Chicago and Tashkent,* while the vast hordes in the East and in Africa 
would launch out into industry. 

While one of our best French sociologists sheds tears over Le Travail 
en Miettes (Work in Crumbs), the title of one of his books/ American syn- 
dicates are studying the twenty-hour week. And while Parisian so-called 
avant-garde intellectuals are wondering whether Marx is not perhaps a 
back number, or whether existentialism is or is not a revolutionary form 
of humanism, the Sternfeld Institute in Moscow is examining the pos- 
sibility of settling human beings on the moon. While Mr. Varga awaits 

*A 2,000-year-old city in Uzbekistan. 

t[George Friedmann, founder of a human work sociology, spent his life studying the 
relationship between workers and machinery. — Ed.] 



20 


PART ONE 


the collapse of the United States announced by the Prophet, American 
biologists are preparing to create life artificially. While the problem of 
coexistence is still being debated, communism and capitalism are being 
transformed by the most sweeping technological revolution this planet 
has ever known. Our eyes are in the back of our heads; it is time to put 
them in their right place. 

The last sociologist with any imagination or drive was no doubt 
Lenin. He had accurately defined the communism of 1917 as "socialism 
plus electricity." After nearly half a century, the definition still holds good 
for China, Africa, and India but is obsolete as regards the modern world. 
Russia awaits the thinker who will describe the new order: communism 
plus atomic energy, plus automation, plus the synthetic creation of fuel 
and food from water and air, plus the physics of solid bodies, plus the 
conquest of the stars, etc., etc. John Buchan, after attending the funeral 
of Lenin, announced the coming of another Seer who would promulgate 
a "four-dimensional communism." 

If the U.S.S.R. lacks a sociologist of sufficient eminence, America 
is no better off. The reaction against the "red historians" at the end of 
the nineteenth century has led economic observers to indulge in unin- 
hibited praise of the great capitalist dynasties and powerful institutions. 
This is a healthy reaction up to a point, but a short-sighted one. Critics 
of the "American way of life" are rare, and their attitude is "literary" and 
purely negative. None of them seems to have enough imagination to see. 
beyond this "solitary crowd," a civilization that belies its external forms, 
or to sense the collapse of old values and the advent of new myths. And 
yet the astonishing and abundant production of what is known as "sci- 
ence fiction" points to the emergence of a new spirit, leaving adolescence 
behind, unfolding on a planetary level, preoccupied with cosmic specu- 
lations and adopting an entirely new approach to the question of the 
destiny of mankind within the vast Universe. But this kind of literature, 
having so much in common with the oral tradition of the storytellers 
of ancient times and so clearly indicating a profound change in people's 
mental habits, is not taken seriously by the sociologists. 

As regards European sociology, it is still quite provincial in outlook, 



THE FUTURE PERFECT 


21 


and preoccupied with inessentials. It is therefore not surprising that the 
more sensitive sections of society take refuge in a philosophy of despair. 
Everything is absurd, and the H-bomb has put an end to history. It is 
easier to live with this philosophy, which appears to be at once sinister 
and profound, than to attempt the arduous task of analyzing the world 
of reality. It is a temporary sickness of mind among civilized people 
who have not adapted the ideas they have inherited about such things 
as the freedom of the individual, human personality, happiness, etc., to 
the new set of values envisaged by the civilization of the future. It is a 
sign of nervous fatigue affecting the human spirit at a time when, fully 
occupied in coping with its own conquests, it is important that it should 
not give up the struggle, but change its own structure. After all, it is not 
the first time in the history of humanity that human consciousness has 
had to switch to another level. All operations are painful; but if there 
is to be any future, it is worth investigating. And. at the rate things 
are moving today, our criterion should not be the immediate past. Our 
immediate future is as different from anything we have known as the 
nineteenth century was from the Maya civilization. We must therefore 
proceed by projecting ourselves farther and farther into space and time 
instead of making trivial comparisons within an infinitely small period 
where the past we have just been living in bears no resemblance to the 
future, and where the present has no sooner come into being than it is 
swallowed up by this unusuable past. 

The first really fruitful idea is that there has been a change in what 
our civilization is aiming at. A Crusader from the past revisiting the world 
would immediately ask why we are not using the atomic bomb against the 
Infidels. Stalwart-hearted and intelligent, he would in the last resort be less 
disconcerted by our modern techniques than by the fact that the Infidels 
still hold half the Holy Sepulcher, the other half being in the hands of 
the Jews. He would find it harder still to understand why the wealth and 
power of a powerful and wealthy civilization are not being devoted to 
the service and glory of Jesus. What would our sociologists have to say to 
this? That the exclusive aim of all these immense efforts, conflicts, and 
discoveries has been to raise the "standard of living" of the human race? 



22 


PART ONE 


He would find that absurd since, for him, such a life would seem to him 
an aimless one. They would talk to him about Justice, Liberty, and the 
Rights of Man, and recite to him the humanistic-materialist gospel of the 
nineteenth century. And our Crusader no doubt would reply: "But liberty 
to do what? And justice in what cause? And what are the rights of man?" 
If we want our knight to look upon our civilization as a worthy setting 
for a human soul, it is useless to talk to him in the retrospective language 
of our sociologists. We must use a forward-looking vocabulary, and pres- 
ent to him, as evidence of the beginning of a triumphant new crusade, the 
achievements, material and intellectual, of our progressive world. 

Once again, it's a question of saving the Holy Sepulcher — spirit 
weighed down by matter — and repulsing the Infidel — everything that is 
unfaithful to the infinite might of the spirit. It is still a religious question: 
making manifest everything that binds man to his own greatness, and 
that greatness to the laws of the Universe. We should have to show our 
Crusader a world in which cyclotrons are like cathedrals, and mathemat- 
ics like Gregorian plain-chant; where transmutations take place not only 
in matter, but in the brain; where human beings of all races and colors are 
on the march; where man in his quest for knowledge extends his antennae 
into cosmic space, and where the soul of our planet is awakening. Perhaps, 
then, our Crusader would ask to go back to the past. Perhaps he would 
feel at home here, but placed as it were, on a different level. Perhaps, on 
the other hand,' he would march eagerly toward the future, just as long 
ago he marched toward the East, inspired once again by faith, but this 
time of a different kind. 

You see now the adventure on which we are engaged. Make sure your 
eyes are in their right place! It is time to turn darkness into light! 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


I The generation of the workers of the Earth — Are you a behind-the-times 

modern, or a contemporary ofthe future? — A poster on the walls of Paris 
in 1622 — The esoteric language is the technical language — A new conception 
of a secret society — A new aspect ofthe "religious spirit " 

Griffin. H. G. Wells's Invisible Man, said: "People, even cultivated people, 
have no idea of the forces concealed in scientific books. These volumes 
contain marvels and miracles." 

They have now, however; and the man in the street knows it better 
than the clever people, always one revolution behind. There are mar- 
vels and miracles, and terrifying things too. The powers of science since 
Wells have extended beyond our planet, and threaten even its existence. 
A new generation of scientists is born. These are men who believe them- 
selves to be. not disinterested seekers after truth and spectators, but, as 
Teilhard de Chardin has so finely described them, "ouvriers de la terre" 
(workers ofthe earth), who have linked their destiny to that of human- 
ity and made themselves largely responsible for that destiny. 

Joliot-Curie hurls bottles of petrol against the German tanks during 
the fighting for the liberation of Paris. Norbert Wiener, the cybernetician, 
reprimands the politicians: "We have given you unlimited power, and you 
have created Bergen-Belsen and Hiroshima!" 

These are the "new-look" scientists who have linked their destiny 
with that of the world itself.* 

’"The scientist has had to admit that, like any other human being, he is as much a spec- 
tator as an actor in the great drama of existence." (Bohr) 



24 


PART ONE 


They are the direct heirs of the great seekers of the first quarter of our 
century: the Curies, Langevin, Perrin, Planck, Einstein, etc. It has not been 
sufficiently proclaimed that the flame of genius during those years rose to 
greater heights than at any period since the miracle of Greece. These great 
men had had to wage war against the inertia of the human spirit, and had 
been violent in their campaigns. "Truth never prevails," said Planck, "but 
her adversaries always perish in the end." And Einstein: "I do not believe in 
education. Your only model ought to be yourself, how frightful that model 
may be." But the struggles these men were engaged in had nothing to do 
with the Earth and its history, or with day-to-day happenings. 

They felt themselves responsible only to truth. And yet political events 
overtook them. Planck's son was assassinated by the Gestapo, Einstein 
driven into exile. The present generation, everywhere and in all circum- 
stances, is made aware that the scientist is closely connected with world 
affairs. Almost all useful knowledge is concentrated in his hands, and very 
soon all power will be too. He is the key figure in the adventure on which 
humanity has embarked. Enmeshed by politics, harassed by the police and 
information services, supervised by the military, he has about an equal 
chance of ending his career with the Nobel Prize or facing a firing squad. 
At the same time his work leads him to scorn the trivialities of the indi- 
vidual and the particular, and enables him to think on a planetary, even 
cosmic level. Between his own power and the powers that be there is a 
misunderstanding. Only an arrant coward could hesitate between the risk 
he runs himself and the risks to which he exposes the world. Kurchatov 
broke the seal of silence and revealed what he knew to the British phys- 
icists at Harwell. Pontecorvo fled to Russia to carry on his work there. 
Oppenheimer got into trouble with his government. The American atomic 
scientists took sides against the army and published their extraordinary 
Bulletin: the cover drawing represented a clock whose hands move toward 
midnight every time some formidable experiment or discovery falls into 
the hands of the military. 

"This is my prediction for the future," wrote the British biologist 
J. B. S. Haldane: "whatever hasn't happened will happen! And no one 
will be safe from it!" 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 25 

Matter liberates its energy, and the way to the planets is open. Events 
such as these seem to be unprecedented in history. "We are living at a 
time when history is holding its breath, and the present is detaching itself 
from the past like an iceberg that has broken away from its icy moorings 
to sail across the boundless ocean."* 

If the present is detaching itself from the past, this means a rupture, 
not with all past periods, and not with those that reached maturity, but 
only with the most recent past, i.e., what we have called "modern civiliza- 
tion." This civilization, which emerged from the welter ofideas circulating 
in Western Europe in the eighteenth century, reached its highest develop- 
ment in the nineteenth and spread its benefits throughout the world in 
the first half of the twentieth. It is becoming more and more remote from 
us. We are conscious of this all the time, and have reached the point of 
rupture. Our conscience and our intelligence tell us that between being 
an out-of-date modern and a contemporary of the future there is a big 
difference. 

The ideas on which this modern civilization of ours is founded are 
outworn. During this period of rupture, or rather of transmutation, we 
must not be surprised if great changes take place in regard to the role of 
science and the scientist's mission in life. 

What are these changes? A vision from the distant past may enable us 
to throw some light upon the future. Or, to put it more precisely, it may 
help us to see more clearly where to look for a new point of departure. 

One day, in the year 1622, the inhabitants of Paris woke to find the 
walls of their city covered with posters bearing the following message: 
"We, deputies of the principal College of the Brethren of the Rosy Cross 
(Rosicrucians) are amongst you in this town, visibly and invisibly, through 
the grace of the Most High to whom the hearts of all just men are turned, 
in order to save our fellowmen from the error of death.” This was consid- 
ered by most people to be ajoke, but, as M. Serge Hutin reminds us today: 
"The Rosicrucian Brethren were credited with possession of the following 


'Arthur Clarke: The Children of Icarus. 



26 


PART ONE 


secrets: the transmutation of metals, the prolongation of life, knowledge 
of what is happening in distant places, and the application of the occult 
sciences to the discovery of even the most deeply hidden objects."* 

Eliminate the term "occult," and you find yourself confronted with 
the powers that modern science possesses or is on the way to possess. 
. . . According to the legend, already firmly established at that time, the 
Rosicrucians claimed that man's powers over nature and over himself 
would become limitless, that immortality and control of all natural forces 
were within his grasp, and that he would be able to know everything that 
happened in the Universe. 

There is nothing absurd in this, and the progress of science has to some 
extent justified these claims. Therefore the poster of 1622, couched in mod- 
ern terms, might well appear on the walls of Paris today, or in a newspaper, 
if there was to be a congress of scientists to warn men of the dangers to 
which they are exposed, and the necessity of adopting a new approach to 
all their social and moral activities. Certain statements by Einstein, charged 
with emotion; a speech by Oppenheimer, a leading article in the bulletin 
of the American atomic scientists have exactly the same undertones as this 
Rosicrucian manifesto. Here, for example, is a recent Russian pronounce- 
ment. Referring to the conference on radioisotopes held in Paris in 1957, 
the Soviet writer Vladimir Orlov wrote as follows: "The 'alchemists' of 
today would do well to remember the statutes of their predecessors in the 
Middle Ages, now preserved in a Parisian Museum, in which it is laid down 
that no man shall devote himself to alchemy who is not 'pure in heart and 
inspired by the loftiest intentions.'" 

The notion of a secret international society composed of men of the 
highest intelligence, spiritually transformed by the profundity of their 
knowledge, desirous of protecting their scientific discoveries against 
officialdom and the curiosity and greed of other men, and reserving for 
themselves the right to use their discoveries at the right moment, or else 
to conceal them for a number of years or to allow only an insignificant 
fraction of them to be published — such a notion is both an extremely 


*Serge Hutin: Histoire de la Rose-Croix (Story of the Rosy Cross), Paris. 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


27 


ancient and an ultramodern one. It would have been inconceivable in the 
nineteenth century, or even twenty-five years ago. Today it is quite con- 
ceivable. I would even dare to state that, on a certain level, such a society 
exists today. Some of us who have been received at Princeton (I am think- 
ing especially of my friend Rajah Rao) may have formed the same opin- 
ion. Though there is nothing to prove that the secret Rosicrucian society 
existed in the seventeenth century, we have every reason to believe that a 
society of this nature is being formed today by the pressure of events, and 
that there is bound to be one in the future. We should explain, however, 
what is meant by secret society, the idea of which, seemingly so remote, 
has its own significance today. 

To return to the Rosicrucians, the historian Serge Hutin tells us that: 
"They then represented a group of human beings who had reached a 
higher state than the mass of humanity, and thus possessed similar inter- 
nal characteristics which enabled them to recognize one another at all 
times." 

This definition, in our opinion at least, has the merit of being free 
from high-falutin' occult terminology. That is because we have a clear, 
almost scientific, practical and optimistic idea of what is meant by a 
"higher state."* 

Scientific research has reached the stage where we can envisage the 
possibility of artificial mutations that will improve living beings, includ- 
ing man himself. "Radioactivity," according to a British biologist, "may 
create monsters, but it will also give us geniuses." The aim of the alche- 
mist's researches was the transmutation of the operator himself; perhaps 
it is also that of the modern scientist. We shall see presently that, up to 
a point, this has already happened in the case of certain contemporary 
scientists. 

Advanced studies in psychology seem to have proved the existence 
of a state of hyperconsciousness different from sleep and wakefulness, in 
which a man's intellectual faculties may be increased tenfold. To the psy- 
chology of the subconscious, which we owe to psychoanalysis, must now 


*See part 3 of this work: "That Infinity Called Man. . . 



28 


PART ONE 


be added a psychology of the heights, which opens up a vista of superin- 
tellectuality. Genius may be merely one of the stages through which man 
must pass in order to achieve the fullest use of his faculties. 

In normal life, we only use a tenth of our potential resources of atten- 
tion. prospection, memory, intuition, and coordination. We may well be 
on the point of discovering, or rediscovering the keys that will enable us 
to open within ourselves doors behind which a mass of new knowledge is 
awaiting us. In this context, the idea of an imminent mutation in human- 
ity is nearer reality than it is to some occult dream. 

We shall be dealing at length with this point later. No doubt there 
are already among us the products of this mutation, or at all events men 
who have already taken some steps along the road on which we shall all 
be traveling one day. 

According to tradition,* since the term "genius" can hardly embrace 
all the possible higher potentialities of the human mind, the Rosicrucians 
were supposed to have been of another order of intelligence, elected by 
cooption. It is, perhaps, truer to say that the Rosicrucian legend lends 
support to a reality: a permanent secret society of men of exceptional 
faculties — an open conspiracy, in fact. 

The Rosicrucian Society probably came naturally into being, consist- 
ing of men of superior intelligence seeking similar spirits with whom it 
would be possible to converse. This suggests an Einstein, who could only 
be understood by five or six men in the whole world, or a few hundred 
mathematicians and physicists capable of discussing usefully the implica- 
tions of the laws governing even numbers. 

The Rosicrucians were concerned exclusively with the study of 
nature: but such a study was illuminating only to minds of a different 
caliber from that of ordinary men. If such minds are brought to bear on a 
study of nature, they will attain to a knowledge of all things and perfect 
wisdom. This new, dynamic idea attracted both Newton and Descartes. 
Their names have more than once been associated with the Rosicrucians. 


*A less reliable translation would suggest that the Rosicrucians were the heirs of civiliza- 
tions that have disappeared. 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


29 


Does this mean that they were affiliated members? Such a question is 
meaningless. We are not thinking of an organized society, but of the 
establishment of the necessary contacts between exceptional minds, and a 
common language, not secret, but merely inaccessible to ordinary men at 
a given epoch in time. 

If far-reaching discoveries regarding the nature of matter and energy 
and the laws which govern the Universe have been made and worked on 
by civilizations that have disappeared, and if some of them have been 
preserved throughout the ages (which is by no means certain), this could 
only have been done by people of superior intelligence and in a language 
necessarily incomprehensible to the ordinary man. If, however, we reject 
this hypothesis we can nevertheless imagine, from one age to another, a 
succession of beings of exceptional gifts able to communicate with one 
another. Such beings are well aware that it is not in their interests to dis- 
play their powers openly. If Christopher Columbus had been a man of 
this caliber he would have kept his discovery secret. Obliged as they are 
to observe some degree of clandestinity, these men can establish satisfac- 
tory contacts only with their equals. One has only to think of a discus- 
sion between doctors by a patient's bed in a hospital, not a word of which, 
though clearly audible, can be understood by the sick man; the point of 
my argument will then be readily grasped without it being necessary to 
confuse the issue by talking about occultism, initiation, etc. Finally, it is 
obvious that this intellectual elite, being anxious not to attract attention 
if only to avoid meeting with obstruction, would have something better to 
do than play at being conspirators. If they form a society it is because they 
may have no choice in the matter; and if they have a language of their 
own this is because the ideas expressed in this language are inaccessible to 
ordinary minds. This is the only sense in which we can accept the idea of 
a secret society. The other secret societies, the ones that are on record and 
of which there are many, all more or less powerful and picturesque, are in 
our opinion, nothing but imitations, like children copying grown-ups. 

So long as men cherish the dream of getting something for noth- 
ing, money without working, knowledge without study, power without 
knowledge, and virtue without asceticism, so long will pseudosecret and 



30 


PART ONE 


initiatory societies continue to flourish, with their imitative hierarchies 
and their mumbo-jumbo that imitates the real secret language, the lan- 
guage of technicians. 

We have chosen the example of the 1622 Rosicrucians because the 
genuine members of that sect, according to tradition, did not claim to 
have derived their knowledge from some mysterious form of initiation, but 
from the study of the Liber Mundi, the Book of the World and of Nature. 
The Rosicrucian tradition is therefore the same as that of modern science. 
We are beginning today to understand that a profound and rational study 
of this book of nature calls for qualities other than mere observation and 
what we referred to just now as the scientific spirit, and indeed for some- 
thing other than what we call intelligence. At the stage we have reached 
in scientific research our minds and intelligence will have to surpass them- 
selves and rise to transcendent heights; the human, all-too-human, will no 
longer suffice. It is perhaps to a similar conclusion, arrived at centuries ago 
by men of superior intelligence, that we owe the legend, if not the fact 
of the Rosicrucian sect. The out-of-date modern is a rationalist. The con- 
temporary of the future is more religiously minded. Too much modernism 
separates us from the past; a little futurism brings us nearer to it. 

"Among the young atomic scientists," wrote Robert Jungk (in Brighter 
Than a Thousand Suns) "some looked upon their work as a kind of intel- 
lectual exercise of no particular significance and involving no obligations, 
but for others, their researches seemed like a religious experience." 

Our Rosicrucians in 1622 visited Paris "invisibly." What is remarkable 
today, when police and espionage loom large, is that the great scientists 
manage to communicate with each other without allowing governments 
to discover what they are up to. The fate of the world could be discussed 
openly by ten scientists in the presence of Khrushchev and the President 
of the United States without these gentlemen being able to understand a 
single word. An international society of research workers who kept aloof 
from politics would have every chance ofbeing undetected; and the same 
would apply to a society that confined its interventions to a few very spe- 
cial cases. Even its means of communication might never be traced. The 
radio might easily have been discovered in the seventeenth century, and 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 31 

rudimentary crystal sets could have been used by initiates. Similarly, mod- 
ern research on parapsychological media has led to practical applications 
in the sphere of telecommunications. The American engineer, Victor 
Enderby, wrote recently that if results had been obtained in this field, 
they had been kept secret at the express wish of the inventors. 

We are again struck by the fact that Rosicrucian tradition makes 
allusion to certain machines, which official science at that date had not 
been able to produce, such as perpetual lamps, instruments for record- 
ing sounds and images, etc. The legend describes apparatus found in the 
tomb of the symbolic "Christian Rosenkreutz," which might have been 
made in 1958, but not in 1622. This shows that the Rosicrucian doctrine 
was concerned with the domination of the Universe through science and 
technique, and not at all through initiation or mysticism. 

In the same way, we can quite well imagine in our own times a society 
with a secret technology of its own. Political persecution, social restric- 
tions, the growth of a moral sense, and the feeling that they bear a ter- 
rible responsibility will make it more and more imperative for scientists 
to work in secret. But this clandestinity will in no way hamper research. 
It is unthinkable that rockets and enormous machines for splitting the 
atom will in future be the scientist's only instruments. All the really great 
discoveries have been made with the simplest of apparatus and the most 
modest installations. It may well be that there are certain places in the 
world at this moment where there is a great concentration of intellects and 
a corresponding degree of this new form of clandestinity. We are enter- 
ing an epoch that strongly resembles the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, and a new manifesto, like that of 1622, is perhaps in preparation. 
Maybe it has already appeared without our noticing it. 

What estranges us from this way of thinking is the fact that the 
ancients always expressed themselves in religious terms. As a result, our 
approach is exclusively literary, or "spiritual." This is where we show that 
we are "modern," and not belonging to the future. 


Finally, we are impressed by the repeated affirmations of the 
Rosicrucians and alchemists that the object of the science of transmuta- 
tions is the transmutation of the human mind itself. This has nothing to 



32 


PART ONE 


do with magic, or with celestial favors; it means that when certain realities 
have been discovered, the observer will be obliged to look at everything 
from a different angle. When we remember the very rapid developments 
in the thinking of the greatest atomic scientists, we begin to understand 
what the Rosicrucians were trying to say. 

We are living at a time when science, at its highest power, has entered 
the spiritual Universe and has transformed the mind of the observer him- 
self, raising it to a plane which is no longer that of scientific intelligence, 
now proved to be inadequate. 

What our atomic scientists have been through is comparable to the 
experience described in the alchemists' books and in the Rosicrucian tra- 
dition. The spiritual language is not the stammering that precedes scien- 
tific language, but rather the full consummation of the latter. What is 
happening to us now may well have happened long ago, on another plane 
of consciousness, so that the Rosicrucian legend and the realities of today 
have a common point of contact. We can understand tomorrow better if 
we look at the ancient world through fresh eyes. 

We are no longer living in an age where progress is assessed exclusively 
in terms of technical and scientific advances. Another factor has to be 
considered, the same that was envisaged by the Unknown Elite in olden 
days who showed that the Liber Mundi was concerned with "something 
different." An eminent physicist, Heisenberg, writes today that: "The 
space in which man's spiritual being develops is in a different dimension 
from that in which it was moving in previous centuries." 

Wells died a disappointed man. His whole life had been sustained 
by his faith in progress. But before he died he saw this progress take on 
a terrifying aspect. He did not trust it any more. The most formidable 
methods of destruction had just been invented, and science threatened to 
destroy the world. In 1946 the aging Wells wrote, in despair: "Man has 
reached the limit ofhis possibilities." It was then that this old man, whose 
genius had anticipated almost everything, ceased to be a contemporary of 
the future. 

We are now beginning to perceive that humankind has reached the 
limit of only one ofhis possibilities; others have been revealed. New paths 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


33 


have been opened up which have been alternately hidden and exposed by 
the tides of the ocean of time. Wolfgang Pauli, the world-famous math- 
ematician and physicist, used to adopt a narrow scientific approach in the 
best traditions of the nineteenth century. In 1932, at the Copenhagen 
Congress, in his icy skepticism and lust for power he seemed like some 
Faustian Mephistopheles. In 1955 he had so widened his outlook that he 
became the eloquent advocate of a long-neglected method of seeking sal- 
vation from within. 

This kind of evolution is typical, and has happened to most of the 
great atomic scientists. It does riot mean a revival of a moralistic attitude 
or a vague religiosity. On the contrary; it signifies an improvement in the 
observer's approach and a new conception of the nature of knowledge. 
"In view of the division of the activities of the human mind into differ- 
ent compartments which have been strictly maintained for centuries," says 
Wolfgang Pauli, "I envisage a method whose aim would be to reconcile 
contraries in a synthesis incorporating a rational understanding and a 
mystical experience of their unity. No other objective would be in har- 
mony with the mythology, whether avowed or not, of our epoch." 


The prophets oftlie Apocalypse — A Committee of Despair — A 
Louis XVI machine-gun — Science is not a Sacred Cow — Monsieur 
Despotopoulos would like to arrest progress — The legend of the Nine 
Unknown Men 


On the threshold of modern times, the second half of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, there was in existence a band of violently reactionary thinkers. For 
them the "mystique" of social progress was nothing but a swindle; as for 
scientific and technical progress, this was leading the world to ruin. It 
was Philippe Lavastine, a new incarnation of the hero of Balzac's "Chef- 
d'Ceuvre Inconnu" ("Unknown Masterpiece") and a disciple of Gurdjieff, 
who told me about them. At that time, when I was reading Rene Guenon, 



34 


PART ONE 


chief of the antiprogressists, and was seeing a lot of Lanza del Vasto who 
had just returned from India, I was inclined to agree with these reaction- 
ary thinkers. 

The ancients, no doubt, were as wicked as we are, but they knew 
it. And so they were wise enough to put up protective railings. A papal 
bull condemned the use of the tripod as a means of strengthening the 
archer's bow; this machine, supplementing the natural force of the archer, 
would make fighting inhuman. This bull remained in force for two hun- 
dred years. Roland de Roncevaux, smitten by the slings of the Saracens, 
exclaimed: "Cursed be the coward who invented arms capable of killing 
from a distance." Nearer our own times, in 1755, a French engineer named 
Du Perron presented the young Louis XVI with a "military organ" which, 
when a lever was pulled, discharged twenty-four bullets simultaneously. A 
memoire was attached to this instrument, the forerunner of the modern 
machine-gun. The weapon was considered by the King and his ministers, 
Malesherbes and Turgot, to be so deadly that the offer was refused, and 
the inventor was deemed to be an enemy ofhumanity. 

In our desire to emancipate everything, we have also emancipated 
war. Whereas it used to be an occasion for self-sacrifice and salvation for 
a few, it now spells ruin for all. 

These were more or less my views around 1946, and I was thinking 
of preparing an anthology of "reactionary thinkers," whose influence at 
that time was overshadowed by that of the romantic progressists. These 
"writers in reverse," these prophets of the Apocalypse crying in the des- 
ert, were Blanc de Saint-Bonnet, Emile Montagut, Albert Sorel, Donoso 
Cortes, etc. Following the same line of revolt as these "fathers" of the 
movement I brought out a pamphlet entitled Le Temps des Assassins (The 
Time of Assassins), and my contributors included notably Aldous Huxley 
and Albert Camus. The American press gave some publicity to this 
pamphlet which vigorously denounced science, the army and the politi- 
cians, and pleaded for a second Nuremberg to judge all the technicians of 
destruction. 

I feel today that things are not quite so simple, and that a different 
and higher view must be taken of irreversible history. And yet in the 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


35 


uneasy post-war years around 1946 this line of thought shone like a bea- 
con over the ocean of anxieties that were torturing the intellectuals who 
had no desire to be either victims nor executioners. And it was true that, 
after Einstein's telegram, things had gotten worse. "What the scientists 
have got in their briefcases is terrifying," said Khrushchev in 1960. But a 
kind of lassitude set in, and after a number of solemn and useless protests, 
people turned their attention to other things. Like the condemned man 
in his cell, they were waiting to know whether they had been reprieved 
or not. In any case there was a general feeling of revolt against a science 
which was capable of annihilating the world, and of skepticism as to 
whether technical progress could do much to save the situation. "They'll 
end by blowing up the world." 

Since Aldous Huxley's furious diatribes in Counterpoint and Brave 
New World, scientific optimism was at a discount. In 1951 the American 
chemist Anthony Standen published a book called Science Is a Sacred Cow 
in which he protested against the tendency to idolize science. In October 
1953 a celebrated professor of law in Athens, Mr. O. J. Despotopoulos, 
appealed to UNESCO in a manifesto demanding that scientific research 
should cease, or at least be kept secret. "It ought," he suggested, "to be in 
future entrusted to a council of scientists, elected by a world vote, and 
consequently having authority to keep silence.” Utopian as it may seem, 
this idea is none the less interesting. It points to something that might, in 
the future, be possible and, as we shall see presently, reechoes one of the 
great themes discussed in bygone civilizations. In a letter I received from 
Mr. Despotopoulous in 1955, he outlined his ideas as follows: 

Natural science is certainly one of the rriost meritorious conquests 
in human history. But the moment it liberates forces capable of 
destroying the whole human race it ceases from a moral standpoint 
to be what it used to be. It has become almost impossible to distin- 
guish between pure science and its technological applications. One 
cannot therefore speak of science qua science as being a good thing 
in itself. Or rather, in some of its more important branches, it has 
now become a negative value in so far as it no longer conforms to 



36 


PART ONE 


ordinary moral standards and is free to exercise its dangerous activi- 
ties in order to satisfy the lust for power of the politicians. This ado- 
ration of progress and freedom where scientific research is concerned 
is wholly pernicious. What we propose is this: the codification of the 
conquests of natural science up to now, and the creation of a Council 
of World Scientists with powers to prohibit absolutely or partially 
any progress it may achieve in the future. Such a measure, no doubt, 
would be tragically severe, even cruel, since the activity it seeks to 
curtail is one of the noblest human impulses, and it is impossible to 
underestimate the difficulties inherent in such a solution. But there 
is no other that could be so efficacious. The objections are easily 
foreseen: a return to the Middle Ages, to barbarism, etc.; but these 
do not really carry any weight. Our intention is not to retard intel- 
lectual advancement, but to protect it; not to impose restrictions 
for the benefit of any social class, but in the interests of human- 
ity as a whole. There lies the problem. Anything else can only lead 
to divisions and time wasted in trying to tackle problems of lesser 
importance. 

These ideas were favorably received in the British and German press, 
and dealt with very fully in the bulletin of the atomic scientists in London. 
They have, in fact, much in common with certain proposals put forward 
at international conferences on disarmament. There is reason to believe, 
moreover, that in other civilizations science, though not inexistent, was 
kept secret. Such would seem to have been the origin of the marvelous 
legend of the Nine Unknown Men. 

This tradition goes back to the time of the Emperor Asoka, who 
reigned in India from 273 BC. He was the grandson of Chandragupta who 
was the first to unify India. Ambitious like his ancestor whose achieve- 
ments he was anxious to complete, he conquered the region of Kalinga 
which lay between what is now Calcutta and Madras. The Kalingans 
resisted and lost 100,000 men in the battle. 

At the sight of this massacre Asoka was overcome. Forever after he 
experienced a horror of war. He renounced the idea of trying to inte- 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


37 


grate the rebellious people, declaring that the only true conquest was to 
win men's hearts by observance of the laws of duty and piety, because 
the Sacred Majesty desired that all living creatures should enjoy security, 
peace, and happiness and be free to live as they pleased. 

A convert to Buddhism, Asoka, by his own virtuous example, spread 
this religion throughout India and his entire empire, which included Malaya, 
Ceylon, and Indonesia. Later Buddhism penetrated to Nepal. Tibet, China, 
and Mongolia. Asoka nevertheless respected all religious sects. He preached 
vegetarianism, abolished alcohol and the slaughter of animals. H. G. Wells, 
in his abridged version of his Outline of World History, wrote: 'Among the 
tens of thousands of names of monarchs accumulated in the files of his- 
tory, the name of Asoka shines almost alone, like a star." 

It is said that the Emperor Asoka, aware of the horrors of war, wished 
to forbid men ever to put their intelligence to evil uses. During his reign, 
natural science — past, and present — was vowed to secrecy. Henceforward, 
and for the next two thousand years, all researches, ranging from the 
structure of matter to the techniques employed in collective psychol- 
ogy, were to be hidden behind the mystical mask of a people commonly 
believed to be exclusively concerned with ecstasy and supernatural phe- 
nomena. Asoka founded the most powerful secret society on earth: that 
of the Nine Unknown Men. 

It is still thought that the great men responsible for the destiny of 
modern India, and scientists like Bose and Ram believe in the existence 
of the Nine, and even receive advice and messages from them. 

One can imagine the extraordinary importance of secret knowledge 
in the hands of nine men benefiting directly from experiments, studies, 
and documents accumulated over a period of more than two thousand 
years. What can have been the aim of these men? Not to allow methods 
of destruction to fall into the hands of unqualified persons, and to pur- 
sue knowledge which would benefit mankind. Their numbers would be 
renewed by cooption, so as to preserve the secrecy of techniques handed 
down from ancient times. 

Examples of the Nine Unknown Men making contact with the 
outer world are rare. There was, however, the extraordinary case of one 



38 PART ONE 


of the most mysterious figures in Western history: the Pope Sylvester II. 
known also by the name of Gerbert d'Aurillac. Born in the Auvergne 
in 920 (d. 1003), Gerbert was a Benedictine monk, professor at the 
University ofRheims, Archbishop of Ravenna, and Pope by the grace of 
Otho III. He is supposed to have spent some time in Spain, after which 
a mysterious voyage brought him to India where he is reputed to have 
acquired various kinds of skills that stupefied his entourage. For exam- 
ple, he possessed in his palace a bronze head, which answered yes or no 
to questions put to it on politics or the general position of Christianity. 
According to Sylvester II* this was a perfectly simple operation corre- 
sponding to a two-figure calculation, and was performed by an autom- 
aton similar to our modern binary machines. This "magic" head was 
destroyed when Sylvester died, and all the information it imparted care- 
fully concealed. No doubt an authorized research worker would come 
across some surprising things in the Vatican Library. 

In the cybernetics journal Computers and Automation of October 
1954 the following comment appeared: "We must suppose that he 
(Sylvester) was possessed of extraordinary knowledge and the most 
remarkable mechanical skill and inventiveness. This speaking head must 
have been fashioned 'under a certain conjunction of stars occurring at 
the exact moment when all the planets were starting on their courses.' 
Neither the past, nor the present nor the future entered into it, since this 
invention apparently far exceeded in its scope its rival, the perverse 'mirror 
on the wall' of the Queen, the precursor of our modern electronic brain. 
Naturally, it was widely asserted that Gerbert was only able to produce 
such a machine because he was in league with the devil and had sworn 
eternal allegiance to him." 

Had other Europeans any contact with this society of the Nine 
Unknown Men? It was not until the nineteenth century that this mystery 
was referred to again in the works of the French writer Jacolliot. 

Jacolliot was French Consul at Calcutta under the Second Empire. 
He wrote some quite important prophetic works, comparable, if not supe- 


*See Vol. C XXXIX of Migne’s Patrologie latine. 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


39 


rior to those of Jules Verne. He also left several books dealing with the 
great secrets of the human race. A great many occult writers, prophets, 
and miracle workers have borrowed from his writings, which, completely 
neglected in France, are well known in Russia. 

Jacolliot states categorically that the society of Nine did actually exist. 
And, to make it all the more intriguing, he refers in this connection to cer- 
tain techniques, unimaginable in 1860, such as, for example, the liberation 
of energy, sterilization by radiation, and psychological warfare. 

Yersin, one of Pasteur and de Roux's closest collaborators, was 
entrusted, it seems, with certain biological secrets when he visited Madras 
in 1890, and following the instructions he received was able to prepare a 
serum against cholera and the plague. 

The story of the Nine Unknown Men was popularized for the first 
time in 1927 in a book by Talbot Mundy who for twenty-five years was a 
member of the British police force in India. His book is half fiction, half 
scientific inquiry. The Nine apparently employed a synthetic language, 
and each of them was in possession of a book that was constantly being 
rewritten and containing a detailed account of some science. 

The first of these books is said to have been devoted to the technique 
of propaganda and psychological warfare. "The most dangerous of all sci- 
ences," wrote Mundy, "is that of moulding mass opinion, because it would 
enable anyone to govern the whole world." 

It must be remembered that Korjybski's General Semantics did not 
appear until 1937 and that it was not until the West had had the experi- 
ence of the last World War that the techniques of the psychology of lan- 
guage, i.e. propaganda, could be formulated. The first American college 
of semantics only came into being in 1950. In France almost the only 
book that is at all well known is Serge Tchocotine's Le Viol des Fonles (The 
Rape of the Masses), which has had a considerable influence in intellectual- 
political circles, although it deals only superficially with the subject. 

The second book was on physiology. It explained, among other things, 
how it is possible to kill a man by touching him, death being caused by a 
reversal of the nerve impulse. It is said that Judo is a result of "leakages" 
from this book. 



4 (I 


PART ONE 


The third volume was a study on microbiology, and dealt especially 
with protective colloids. 

The fourth was concerned with the transmutation of metals. There 
is a legend that in times of drought temples and religious relief organiza- 
tions received large quantities of fine gold from a secret source. 

The fifth volume contains a study of all means of communication, 
terrestrial and extraterrestrial. 

The sixth expounds the secrets of gravitation. 

The seventh contains the most exhaustive cosmogony known to 
humanity. 

The eighth deals with light. 

The ninth volume, on sociology, gives the rules for the evolution of 
societies, and the means of foretelling their decline. 

Connected with the Nine Unknown Men is the mystery of the waters 
of the Ganges. Multitudes of pilgrims, suffering from the most appalling 
diseases, bathe in them without harming the healthy ones. The sacred 
waters purify everything. Their strange properties have been attributed 
to the fact that they contain bacteriophages. But why should these not be 
formed in the Bramaputra, the Amazon or the Seine? Jacolliot in his book 
advances the theory of sterilization by radiation, a hundred years before 
such a thing was thought to be possible. These radiations, he says, prob- 
ably come from a secret temple hollowed out in the bed of the Ganges. 

Avoiding all forms of religious, social, or political agitations, delib- 
erately and perfectly concealed from the public eye, the Nine were the 
incarnation of the ideal man of science, serenely aloof, but conscious of his 
moral obligations. Having the power to mold the destiny of the human 
race, but refraining from its exercise, this secret society is the finest trib- 
ute imaginable to freedom of the most exalted kind. Looking down from 
the watchtower of their hidden glory, these Nine Unknown Men watched 
civilizations being born, destroyed and reborn again, tolerant rather than 
indifferent, and ready to come to the rescue — but always observing that 
rule of silence that is the mark of human greatness. 

Myth or reality? A magnificent myth, in any case, and one that has 
issued from the depths of time — a harbinger, maybe, of the future? 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


4 1 


I I ! Fantastic realism again — Past techniques — Further consideration on 

the necessity for secrecy — We take a voyage through time — The spirit’s 
continuity — The engineer and the magician once again — Past andfuture — 
The present is lagging in both directions — Gold from ancient books — A 
new vision of the ancient world 

We are neither materialists nor spiritualists: these distinctions no longer 
have any meaning for us. Quite simply, we seek reality while avoiding the 
conditioned reflex of the modern man (in our opinion behind the times) 
who turns away as soon as this reality takes on a fantastic air. We have 
turned ourselves into barbarians again so as to conquer this reflex, exactly 
as the painters did in order to tear away the screen of conventions erected 
between their vision and things as they are. Like them, too, we have opted 
for methods that may seem elementary, barbaric, even childish at times. 
We take up a position vis-a-vis the elements and methods of knowledge 
like that of Cezanne in front of his apple, or van Gogh in his field of 
corn. We refuse to exclude any facts, or aspects of reality on the grounds 
that they are not "respectable," or that they go beyond the frontiers fixed 
by current theories. 

Gauguin did not hesitate to paint a red horse, nor Manet to introduce 
a naked woman among the guests in the Dejeuner sur I'herbe (The Lunch 
on the Grass); nor do Max Ernst, Picabia, and Dali exclude from their 
canvases figures sprung from dreams and the world that lives in the sub- 
merged depths of our mind. Our method will meet with derision, revolt, 
and sarcasm: we shall not be hung in the Academy. What is now accepted 
from painters, poets, cineasts, and decorators is not yet acceptable in our 
domain. Science, psychology, and sociology are beset with taboos. Ideas 
about sacrosanctity are no sooner got rid of than they come back in no 
time, under various disguises. But, let's face it, science is not a sacred cow: 
she can quite well be hustled along to clear the road. 

Let us now recapitulate. In this part of our work, entitled Future 
Perfect, our reasoning has been along these lines: 

It may be that what we call esotericism, the keystone of secret societ- 
ies and religions, is a remnant, which we find very difficult to understand 



42 


PART ONE 


or deal with, of a very ancient branch of knowledge, of a technical nature, 
relating to both mind and matter. This idea will be expanded later on. 

The so-called "secrets" may not be fables, legends, or games, but pre- 
cise technical systems — keys to open up and reveal the forces contained 
in man and in things. 

Science is not a technique. Contrary to what might be supposed, 
technique in many cases does not come after science, but precedes it. 
Technique means doing. Science shows that nothing can be done. 

Then the barriers of impossibilities begin to crumble. We do not, of 
course, pretend that science is useless. The reader will see how highly we 
value science, and with what wonder and admiration we observe it under- 
going a transformation. We simply believe that in the distant past tech- 
niques may well have preceded it. 

It is possible that techniques used long ago may have endowed men 
with powers too terrible to be divulged. 

There could be two reasons for secrecy: 

(a) Caution. "He who knows holds his tongue." Beware lest the keys 
fall into evil hands. 

(b) The fact that the possession and ability to handle techniques and 
skills of this kind calls for a degree of intellectual acuity above the 
ordinary, and the exercise of intelligence and a command of lan- 
guage on a different plane, so that there can be no communication 
at ordinary human level. Thus secrecy results from the nature of 
the thing kept secret, and is not necessarily imposed by those who 
know. 

A similar state of affairs exists in our modern world. The rapid devel- 
opment of techniques in the world of science makes secrecy not only desir- 
able but essential. Great dangers call for great discretion. As knowledge 
advances, the more it is surrounded by secrecy. Scientists and technicians 
form themselves into guilds. 

The language of knowledge and power is incomprehensible to the 
outside world. Physicomathematical research presupposes a different kind 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


43 


of mental structure. At the highest level, those who, in Einstein's phrase, 
have "the power to make far-reaching decisions on good and evil," consti- 
tute a real "cryptocracy " (or secret autocracy). 

The vision we have of the knowledge possessed by the ancients owes 
nothing to "spiritualist" theories. Our way of looking at the present and 
the immediate future allows for the possibility of magic in spheres where 
it is assumed that there is a rationalistic explanation for everything. All 
we are seeking is illumination of a kind that would enable us to see the 
whole human adventure in the context of eternity, and we are ready to use 
any means that will help us to achieve this end. 

Basically, in this part of the book, as elsewhere, our theme is the 
following: 

Man no doubt has the possibility of establishing his relationship with 
the Universe as a whole. You will remember the paradox in Langevin's 
story about the traveler to the stars. Andromeda is three million light- 
years from the earth. But a traveler moving at a speed near to that oflight 
would only be a few years older on arriving. According to the unitary the- 
ory of Jean Charon, for example, it is not inconceivable that during this 
journey the Earth, too, would not have grown any older. Thus man would 
appear to be in contact with the whole of creation, space and time being 
in reality not what they seem. On the other hand, physicomathematical 
research, at the stage where Einstein left it, is an attempt on the part of 
human intelligence to discover the law governing the whole body of the 
forces that permeate the Universe (gravitation, electromagnetism, light, 
and nuclear energy). 

An attempt, that is to say, to achieve a unitary vision, an effort of 
the mind to attain a point where the continuity of things will become 
apparent. And why should the mind feel this desire, unless it had a pre- 
sentiment that such a point exists, and that it is capable of reaching 
this position? "You would not be looking for me if you had not already 
found me." 

On another plane, but in the same order of ideas, what we are seeking 
is a global view revealing the continuity of all the progress made in the 
sphere of human intelligence and human knowledge. This explains why 



44 


PART ONE 


we shall be passing in rapid succession from magic to progress in tech- 
nique, from the Rosicrucians to Princeton, from the Maya civilization to 
the next mutation of man, from the Seal of Solomon to the periodic table 
of the elements, from civilizations that have disappeared to others still 
unborn, from Fulcanelli to Oppenheimer, from sorcery to the electronic 
brain, etc. . . . We shall travel so fast that space and time will burst out 
from their shells and we shall catch a glimpse of permanent continuity. 

There is dream travel and real travel. We have chosen reality. It is in 
this sense that this book is not fiction. We have built apparatus — in the 
shape of demonstrable correspondences, valid comparisons, and undis- 
puted analogies. Apparatus that works, rockets that go off. And there 
have been times when it seemed to us that our minds had reached the 
point from which it is possible to survey the whole of human endeavor. 
Civilizations and the high peaks of human knowledge and organization 
are like rocks in the ocean. We can only catch a glimpse of them as the 
water strikes them; all we see is the wave as it breaks and the flying spray. 
But what we are seeking is the place from which it will be possible to 
contemplate the whole vast ocean in its calm and mighty continuity and 
harmonious unity. 

We must now return to our reflections on techniques, science, and magic. 
They will help to clarify our ideas on secret societies (or rather "open con- 
spiracies") and prepare the way for future studies, one on Alchemy and 
the other on Vanished Civilizations. 

When a young engineer goes into industry, he quickly distinguishes 
two separate worlds. On the one hand, the laboratory, with its well- 
defined laws governing experiments that can be repeated and the image 
it presents of a comprehensible world. On the other hand, there is the 
"real" Universe where laws do not always apply, and where events cannot 
always be foreseen, or impossible things happen. If he is strong minded, 
our engineer's reaction is one of anger and passion, together with a desire 
to "violate this bitch, matter." Those who adopt this attitude usually have 
tragic lives. 

Think of Edison. Tesla, Armstrong. A demon drives them. Werner 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 45 

von Braun tries out his rockets on London and massacres thousands of 
people only to be arrested in the end by the Gestapo for having pro- 
claimed: "After all, I don't care a damn about Germany winning the war; 
what I want is to conquer the Moon!"* 

It has been said that the real tragedy today is politics. This is an out- 
of-date view. The real tragedy is the laboratory. It is to these "magicians" 
that we owe technical progress. Technique, in our opinion, has nothing 
to do with the practical application of science. On the contrary, it is mov- 
ing against science. The eminent mathematician and astronomer Simon 
Newcomb demonstrated that a machine heavier than air could never 
fly. Two bicycle-repair-shop men proved him to be wrong. Rutherford 
and Millikan showed that it would never be possible to make use of the 
reserves of energy in the nucleus of an atom. The answer was the bomb 
at Hiroshima. Science teaches that a mass of homogeneous air cannot be 
separated into hot air and cold air. Hilsch’ showed that all that is needed 
is to drive this mass of air through a specially constructed tube. 

Science erects barriers of impossibilities. The engineer, like the magi- 
cian under the eyes of the Cartesian explorer, passes through these barri- 
ers by means of what the physicists call the "tunnel effect." He is drawn 
by a magic attraction. He wants to see behind the wall — go to Mars, cap- 
ture thunder, manufacture gold. He seeks neither gain nor glory; his aim 
is to catch out the Universe and expose its mysteries. In the Jungian sense, 
he is an archetype. Because of the miracles he tries to perform, the fatality 
which hangs over him and the painful end which so often awaits him, he 
is the son of the heroes of the Sagas and Greek Tragedy.' 

Like the magician, he cultivates secrecy and obeys that law of similar- 
ity that Frazer discovered in his study of magic in The Golden Bough. At 
first, invention is an imitation of natural phenomena. The flying machine 
resembles a bird, the automaton is like a man. And yet resemblance to the 
object, creature, or phenomenon whose powers it is designed to capture is 
almost always useless, and even harmful to the successful working of the 


"Walter Doroberger, The Secret Army of Pennemunde. 

A Technique mondiale (Technical Record), Paris, 1957. 

§Edwin Armstrong, "The Inventor as Hero" (article in Harper's Magazine). 



46 


PART ONE 


inventor's apparatus. Nevertheless, again, like the magician, the inventor 
derives from the resemblance a sense of power and pleasure, which acts as 
an incentive. 

It is possible, in many cases, to retrace the transition from magical 
imitation to scientific technology. Here is an example: 

An ancient method of hardening steel practiced in the Near East was 
to plunge a red-hot blade into the body of a prisoner. This is a typical act 
of magic: the object being to transfer the adversary's warlike qualities to 
the sword. This practice was known to the Crusaders in the West, who 
had noticed that Damascus steel was in fact harder than European steel. 
As an experiment, steel was dipped into water in which animal skins had 
been immersed. The same result was obtained. In the nineteenth century 
it was discovered that these results were due to the presence of organic 
nitrogen. In the twentieth century, when the problem of liquefying gases 
had been solved, the method was perfected by immersing steel in liquid 
nitrogen at a low temperature. In this form nitration has been adopted in 
our technology. 

Another connection between magic and technology can be found in 
the "charms" which the old alchemists used to pronounce while engaged 
in their work. This was probably a method of measuring time in the dark- 
ness of the laboratory. Photographers often recite regular incantations 
while developing their film, and we have heard one of these being recited 
at the top of the Jungfrau while a film that had been exposed to cosmic 
rays was being developed. 

Finally, there is still another connection, even closer and very strik- 
ing, between magic and technology, and that is the way in which inven- 
tions tend to appear simultaneously. Most countries keep a record of the 
day, and even the hour when a patent is applied for; and it has often been 
remarked that inventors working far apart and who do not even know of 
each other's existence have applied for the same patent at exactly the same 
time. 

This phenomenon can scarcely be explained by a vague idea that 
"inventions are in the air," or that "inventions appear as soon as they are 
needed." If this is an example of extrasensory perception, of communi- 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


47 


cation between minds engaged on the same research, the phenomenon 
calls for a serious statistical study. Such an inquiry would perhaps help 
to explain another fact, namely that identical magic techniques are to be 
found in most ancient civilizations in many different parts of the world. 

We are living under the impression that technical inventions are a specifi- 
cally temporary phenomenon. This is because we never take the trouble to 
go and consult ancient documents. There is not a single scientific research 
center working on the past. Old books are read, if they are read at all, by 
only a very few scholars whose interests are mainly literary or historical. 
Consequently they pay scant attention to anything of a scientific or tech- 
nical nature. Is this lack of interest in the past due to the fact that we are 
too much taken up with preparing for the future? I am not so sure. French 
intellectuals seem to be held back by nineteenth-century standards. The 
avant-garde writers are not interested in science, and attention generally 
is still focused on a sociology belonging to the era of the steam engine 
and a revolutionary humanism as out-of-date as the musket. The extent 
to which France is still living in the 1880s is unbelievable. Is her industry 
more go-ahead? 

In 1955 the first world atomic conference was held at Geneva. Rene 
Alleau found himself responsible for the distribution throughout France 
of documents relating to the peaceful uses of atomic energy. 

The sixteen volumes containing the experimental results obtained 
by scientists in every country were the most important publications in 
the history of science and technology. Five thousand industries with a 
potential long- or short-term interest in nuclear energy received a letter 
announcing this publication. Only twenty-five firms replied. 

No doubt it will be necessary to wait until the younger generations 
have reached positions of responsibility before France recovers her mental 
alertness and flexibility. It is for these generations that this book is writ- 
ten. Those who are really interested in the future should also be inter- 
ested in the past, and as ready to look for what they are seeking in both 
directions — backward as well as forward. 

We know nothing, or next to nothing, about the past. There are 



unknown treasures still slumbering in libraries. We who pretend to "love 
humanity" prefer to think of the progress of knowledge as being discon- 
tinuous with hundreds of thousands of years of ignorance to set against 
a few centuries of wisdom. The idea that there suddenly came a "century 
of enlightenment" — an idea that has been accepted with the most discon- 
certing naivety — had the effect of plunging into obscurity all other peri- 
ods in our history. If old books could be studied through fresh eyes, all 
that would be changed. We should be amazed at the wealth they contain. 
And still we should have to remind, ourselves, as Newton's contemporary, 
Francis Atterbury, remarked, that "more old books have been lost than 
have been preserved." 

To undertake a study of this kind, through fresh eyes, has been the aim 
of our friend Rene Alleau, who is both historian and technician. He has 
outlined a method and obtained some results. Up to the present he does 
not seem to have been encouraged in any way to pursue this task, which 
is more than one man alone could possibly cope with. In December 1955, 
at my request, he gave a lecture at a meeting of Automobile Engineers, 
under the chairmanship of Jean-Henri Laboiirdette, the gist of which was 
as follows: 

"What has remained of the thousands of manuscripts in the library 
at Alexandria founded by Ptolemy Soter, and all those documents on the 
science of the ancients, which can never be replaced? Where are the ashes 
of the 200,000 volumes in the library at Pergamo? What has become of 
the Pisistratus collections in Athens, or of the library of the Temple of 
Jerusalem, or of the one in the sanctuary of Phtah at Memphis? What 
treasures were contained in the thousands ofbooks which in 213 BC were 
burnt by the Emperor Chou-Hoang-Ti for purely political reasons? As a 
result of all this, the position today with regard to all these ancient books 
is as if we were looking at an enormous temple of which only a few stones 
are still standing. But if we examine these fragments and these inscrip- 
tions carefully, we shall discover they contain truths far too profound to 
be attributed merely to the intuition of the ancients. 

"In the first place, contrary to what is generally accepted, the meth- 
ods of rationalism were not invented by Descartes. Take a look at the 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


4 9 


texts: 'He who seeks the truth,' wrote Descartes, 'must, as far as possible, 
doubt everything.' This saying is well known, and it sounds very new. 
If, however, we look at the second book of Aristotle's Metaphysics, we 
find this: 'He who seeks to acquire knowledge must first know how to 
doubt, for intellectual doubt helps to establish the truth.' Moreover, it 
is clear that Descartes borrowed not only this striking observation from 
Aristotle, but nearly all the famous rules for intellectual guidance which 
are a basis for the experimental method. This proves, in any case, that 
Descartes had read Aristotle, which is something many of our modern 
Cartesians have never done. The latter might also be aware that some- 
one wrote: 'If I make a mistake, I conclude that I exist; for he who does 
not exist cannot make a mistake, so that the fact ofhaving made a mis- 
take is proof that I exist.' Unfortunately, this was not said by Descartes, 
but by Saint Augustine. 

"As to the skepticism which any observer ought to feel, it is impos- 
sible to go further than Democritus, who refused to admit the validity 
of any experiment at which he personally had not been present, and on 
the results of which he had not set his personal seal as a guarantee of its 
authenticity. This seems to me to be very far removed from the naivety 
with which the Ancients are often reproached. Of course, you will say, the 
philosophers of antiquity had a genius for pure knowledge and erudition, 
but, after all, what did they really know about science? 

"Contrary, again, to what the modern textbooks say, it was not 
Democritus or Leucippus or Epicurus who first initiated and formulated 
atomic theories. Sextus Empiricus informs us that Democritus himself 
had learnt them from tradition, especially from Moschus the Phoenician 
who, it seems (an important point to note) had declared that the atom 
was divisible. 

"It will be seen, then, that the earlier theory was also more correct 
than the views of Democritus and the Greek atomists concerning the 
indivisibility of atoms. In this particular instance it seems clear that 
this was a case of some confusion having arisen due to a misinterpreta- 
tion of theories of very ancient origin, rather than of new and original 
discoveries. 



so 


PART ONE 


"Again, in the sphere of cosmology, it is amazing to reflect that 
although there were no telescopes in those days, it often happened that 
the most ancient astronomical observations were the most accurate. 
For example, in regard to the Milky Way, it was thought by Thales and 
Anaximenes to be made up of stars, each one of which was a world con- 
taining a sun and planets, these worlds being situated in the immensity 
of space. It is clear that Lucretius was familiar with the theory of the 
uniformity of the speed of bodies falling in a vacuum, and of an infi- 
nite space filled with an infinity of worlds. Pythagoras, before Newton, 
had formulated the law of the force of attraction varying inversely as 
the square of the distance between objects. Plutarch, in attempting to 
explain gravitation, attributed it to a reciprocal attraction between all 
bodies, thus accounting for the fact that the Earth causes all terrestrial 
bodies to gravitate toward it. just as the Sun and the Moon draw to 
their center everything pertaining to them and by their force of attrac- 
tion, retain each body in its own particular sphere. 

"Galileo and Newton admitted openly their debt to ancient science. 
Copernicus, also, in the preface to his works addressed to Pope Paul III, 
stated explicitly that it was his reading of ancient authors that gave him 
the idea of the movement of the Earth. Moreover, the admission of these 
borrowings does not in any way detract from the glory of Copernicus, 
Newton, or Galileo, who all belonged to that species of superior beings 
whose disinterestedness and generosity have nothing in common with 
the modern author's self-sufficiency and cult of originality at all costs. A 
humbler and more profoundly genuine attitude is exemplified in the story 
of Marie Antoinette's modiste* exclaiming, as she deftly touched up an 
ancient hat: 'There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.' 

"The history of inventions, like that of the sciences, is enough to 
prove the truth of this bright remark. 'The fate of most discoveries,' wrote 
Fournier, 'is determined by that "fleeting moment" which the Ancients 
thought was as unapproachable as a goddess once it had been allowed to 


"[One who makes and sells dresses and hats. Marie Antoinette’s modiste was named Rose 
Bertin. — Ed.] 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


escape. Unless the idea that starts a train of thought, or the word that 
leads to the solution of a problem, or the significant fact are caught on the 
instant, an invention may have been lost forever or, at all events, delayed 
for several generations. The only way of ensuring its triumphant return 
is the chance that a new idea may rescue the old one from oblivion, or 
else a fortunate plagiarism perpetuated by an inventor secondhand; where 
inventions are concerned, woe to the first-comer, and glory and profit to 
the one who comes after.' It is reflections such as these that justify the 
title of my lecture. 

"For, in my opinion, it should be possible to a large extent to replace 
chance by determinism, and the hazards of sporadic periods of invention 
by the guarantees offered by a vast system of historical documentation 
based on carefully controlled experiments. With this end in view, I pro- 
pose to set up an organization, not for the purpose of establishing the pri- 
ority ofpatents (which, in any ease, ceased in the eighteenth century), but 
to provide a technological service that will simply study ancient processes 
and endeavor to adapt them, if possible, to the requirements of modern 
industry. 

"Had such an organization existed before, it might, for example, have 
drawn attention to a little book, of which no notice was taken when it 
was published in 1618, entitled Histoire naturelle de lafontaine qui brule 
pres de Grenoble (The true story of the burning fountain near Grenoble). 
Its author was a doctor from Tournon, named Jean Tardin. Had anybody 
taken the trouble to study this document, gas could have been used for 
lighting at the beginning of the seventeenth century. For not only did 
Jean Tardin study the natural gasometer in the fountain; he reproduced in 
his laboratory the same phenomenon he had observed in nature. He put 
coal into a sealed tube, subjected it to a high temperature, and produced 
in this way the flames whose origin he was seeking. He explained clearly 
that the basis of this fire was bitumen, which could be broken down into 
a gas that would give off an 'inflammable exhalation.' As it turned out, it 
was not until somewhere around 1797 that the Frenchman Lebon, before 
the Englishman Winsor, patented his 'thermo-lamp.' And so, through a 
failure to reexamine ancient documents, a discovery that might have had 



52 


PART ONE 


considerable industrial and commercial repercussions was forgotten and, 
therefore, for all practical purposes, lost. 

"In the same way, nearly a hundred years before the first optic sig- 
nals discovered by Claude Chappe in 1793, a letter from Fenelon to Jean 
Sobieski, secretary to the King of Poland, dated November 26, 1695, 
mentions experiments recently carried out, not only in optic telegraphy, 
but also in telephony by means of a loudspeaker. 

"In 1636 an unknown author, Schwenter. in his Delassements physio- 
mathematiques was already investigating the principle of the electric tele- 
graph and the possibility of 'two persons being able to communicate with 
one another by means of a magnetic needle.' Now, Oersted's experiments 
in this field date from as late as 1819. Here, again, there was a lapse of 
nearly two centuries during which the original discovery was forgotten. 

"Let me recall briefly a few little-known inventions: the diving bell 
is described in the manuscript of Alexander's Romance in the Royal 
Print Room in Berlin: date, 1320. The manuscript of the German poem, 

Salman und Morolf written in 1190 (Stuttgart Library) contains a draw- 

* 

ing of an underwater vessel; according to the inscription, the ship was 
made of leather and navigable in stormy weather. Finding himself one 
day surrounded by hostile galleys and in danger of being captured, the 
inventor submerged his vessel and lived for fourteen days at the bottom 
of the sea, breathing through a tube floating on the surface. In a work 
written by Ludwig von Hartenstein, circa 1510, there is a drawing of a 
diver's outfit, with two apertures for the eyes covered with glass. At the 
top there is a long tube with a tap to allow the intake from outside. To 
the right and left of the drawing are shown the indispensable accessories 
for the descent and return, namely leaden soles and a stepladder. 

"Here is another example of a forgotten discovery: an unknown writer, 
born at Montebourg, near Coutances, in 1729, published a work entitled 
Giphantie, an anagram of the first part of the author's name, Tiphaigne de 
le Roche. In it is described not only black-and-white, but color photography, 
as follows: 'The image is imprinted instantaneously on the exposed sheet 
(toile), which is then at once removed and placed in a dark room. An hour 
later the prepared surface has dried, and you have a picture all the more 



0 


AN OPEN CONSPIRACY S3 

precious in that no work of art can imitate its truthfulness. 1 The author 
adds: 'it is first of all necessary to examine the nature of the sticky substance 
which intercepts and retains the light rays; secondly, to overcome the diffi- 
culty of preparing and employing it; and, thirdly, to study the action of the 
light and of this dried substance.' And yet it was not until a century later, 
on January 17, 1839, that Daguerre's discovery was announced by Arago to 
the French Academie des Sciences. Moreover, it should be mentioned that 
the properties of certain metallic bodies capable of capturing an image were 
described in a treatise by Fabricius, De rebus metallicis, published in 1566. 

"Another example is vaccination, described long ages ago in one of the 
Vedas, the Sactaya Grantham. This text was cited by Moreau de Jouet on 
October 16, 1826, in his Memoire sur la variolide (Memoir of Smallpox) 

presented to the Academie des Sciences: 'Collect the fluid from the pus- 
tules on the point of a lancet and insert it into the arm, so that the fluid 
mixes with the blood: This will produce fever, but the disease will then 
be very mild and there will be no cause for alarm.' Then follows an exact 
description of all the symptoms. 

"What about anesthetics? On this subject it would have been pos- 
sible to study a work by Denis Papin, written in 1681, entitled: Le Traite 
des operations sans douleur (The Treatise of Operations without Pain), or 
else to repeat the old Chinese experiments with Indian hemp, or again to 
employ for this purpose mandrake wine, well known in the Middle Ages, 
and completely forgotten in the seventeenth century, the effects of which 
were studied by a certain Doctor Auriol of Toulouse, in 1823. No one has 
ever taken the trouble to check the results obtained. 

"And penicillin? Here we can mention first an empirical remedy 
used in the Middle Ages, namely applications of Roquefort cheese; 
but there is also a record of something still more extraordinary. Ernest 
Duchesne, a student at the Ecole de Same Militaire at Lyons, presented 
on December 17, 1897, a thesis entitled: Contribution to a study of hos- 
tile influences in micro-organisms — the antagonism between moulds and 
microbes. This work describes experiments showing the action of penicil- 
lum glaucum on bacteria. Yet this thesis attracted no attention. I would 
stress particularly this flagrant example of a discovery being forgotten 



54 


PART ONE 


so near to our own times when bacteriology was in a flourishing state. 

"Examples of this kind are innumerable, and each one could be the 
subject of a whole lecture. I will take now the case of oxygen, the effects 
of which were studied in the fifteenth century by an alchemist named 
Eck de Sulsbach, as Chevreul pointed out in the Journal cle Savants in 
October 1849. Moreover, Theophrastus had already stated that a flame is 
sustained by an ethereal body (un corps aeriforme), an opinion shared by 
Clement of Alexandria. 

"I will pass over the extraordinary anticipations of Roger Bacon, 
Cyrano de Bergerac, and others, because it would be too easy to attri- 
bute them to pure imagination. I prefer to stick to facts that can be veri- 
fied. As regards the automobile, I would point out that in Nuremberg in 
the seventeenth century a certain Johann Hautch constructed carriages 
with sprung suspension. In 1645 a vehicle of this type was tested in the 
grounds of the Temple, but I believe that the Society founded to exploit 
this invention never came into being. Possibly it met with obstacles like 
those encountered by the first Parisian Transport Society, due. I would 
remind you, to the initiative of Pascal who caused it to be subsidized and 
patronized by one of his friends, the Due de Roannes. 

"Even in the case of still more important discoveries than these, we 
underestimate the influence of data supplied by the Ancients. Christopher 
Columbus admitted openly how much he owed to the old philosophers, 
poets, and sages. It is not generally known that Columbus copied out 
twice the chorus in the second act of Seneca's tragedy, Medea, in which 
the author speaks of a world destined to be discovered in future centuries. 
This copy can be examined in the MS. of Las profecias in the Library at 
Seville. Columbus also remembered Aristotle's observations regarding the 
roundness of the Earth in his treatise De Coelo. 

"Joubert was right when he remarked that 'nothing makes men so 
impudent and conceited as ignorance of the past and a scorn for old 
books.' As Rivarol so well expressed it: 'Every State is a mystery ship with 
its anchor in the sky,' so it could also be said, in speaking of time, that 
the ship of the future has its anchors in the sky of the past. Forgetfulness 
alone threatens us with the worst shipwrecks. 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


55 


"An extreme example of this forgetfulness is seen in the story, which 
would be incredible if it were not true, of the gold mines in California. In 
June 1848 Marshall discovered for the first time some nuggets in a water- 
course near which he was supervising the construction of a mill. Now it 
happened that Fernando Cortez had already been there when he was look- 
ing for some Mexicans who were reported to be in possession of treasure 
of considerable value. Cortez turned the district upside down, searched all 
the huts, but never thought of picking up some sand, while for three cen- 
turies bands of Spanish missionaries roamed all over the gold-bearing soil, 
seeking their Eldorado farther and farther away. And yet, in 1737, more 
than a hundred years before Marshall's discovery, readers of the Gazette cle 
Hollande might have found out that the gold and silver mines of Sonora 
were workable since their newspaper gave their exact position. Moreover 
in 1767 a book was on sale in Paris entitled The Civil and Natural History 
of California in which. the author. Buriell, described the gold mines and 
quoted the evidence of navigators with regard to the nuggets. Nobody 
paid any attention to this article, or to the work, or to these facts, which, 
a century later, were effectively to launch the great 'Gold Rush.' Nor does 
anyone read today the records of the old Arab explorers, although they 
contain valuable information regarding mines. 

"This forgetfulness extends to everything. Long research and care- 
ful checking have convinced me that Europe and France possess treasures 
that are hardly exploited at all — namely, the ancient documents in our 
great libraries. All industrial techniques, however, ought to be organized 
in three dimensions: experience, science, and history. To eliminate or 
neglect the latter is a sign of pride, or else of naivety. It also means pre- 
ferring to run the risk of finding what does not yet exist rather than of 
trying rationally to adapt what does exist to what one desires to obtain. 
Before investing large sums, an industrialist should be in possession of all 
the technological elements relating to his problem. It is obvious, however, 
that merely seeking for priorities in patents is quite an inadequate way of 
ascertaining the state of technical proficiency at any given period in his- 
tory. In point of fact, industries are much older than science; they ought, 
therefore, to be perfectly acquainted with the history of their technical 



56 


PART ONE 


processes about which they are often less well informed than they think. 

"The Ancients, using very simple techniques, obtained results that we 
can imitate but would often find it difficult to explain, despite all our 
resources of theoretical knowledge. This simplicity was the most valuable 
contribution made by ancient science. 

"Yes, you will say; but what about nuclear energy? To this I will reply 
by a quotation which I think should give us serious food for thought. 
In a very rare book, unknown even to many specialists, that appeared 
more than eighty years ago under the title Les Atlantes, the author, writ- 
ing under the pseudonym ofRoisel, described the results of fifty-six years 
of research and the study of ancient science. In describing the scientific 
knowledge with which he credits the inhabitants of Atlantis, Roisel makes 
the following statement quite astounding when you consider the date at 
which he was writing: 'The consequence of this incessant activity was the 
appearance of matter, of that other equilibrium whose rupture would also 
be the cause of violent cosmic phenomena. If, for some unknown reason, 
our solar system were to disintegrate, its constituent atoms, becoming 
instantly active on achieving independence, would shine in space with an 
ineffable light, which would announce from afar destruction on a vast 
scale and the hopes of a new world.' This last example, I think, is enough 
to make us realize the profound truth of Mile Bertin's remark (quoted 
above): 'There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.' 

"Let us consider now how far a systematic probing into the past can 
benefit industry in a practical way. When I suggested that we ought to 
take the liveliest interest in the achievements of the Ancients, I do not 
mean for the sake of erudition alone. All we need do, when concrete doc- 
uments arise in industry, is to examine old scientific and technical docu- 
ments to find out whether they contain either significant facts that have 
been overlooked, or technical processes that have been forgotten but are 
none the less worth studying and directly relevant to the case in point. 
Thus, plastic materials, which we imagine to have been a recent inven- 
tion, might have been discovered much earlier if we had repeated certain 
experiments made by the chemist Berzelius. 

"With regard to metallurgy, I would draw your attention to a rather 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


57 


significant fact. When I first began to study certain chemical processes 
as practiced by the Ancients, I was somewhat surprised not to be able 
to reproduce in the laboratory some metallurgical experiments which 
seemed to be very clearly described. I tried in vain to understand the 
reason for my failure, for I had carefully followed the instructions and 
the proportions indicated. Then, on reflection, I realized that I had none 
the less made a mistake. I had used a flux (or fusible?) that was chemi- 
cally pure, whereas those the Ancients employed were impure, i.e., salts 
obtained from natural products and consequently capable of provoking 
catalytic actions. In the event, the experiment proved that this was the 
case. Specialists will understand what important perspectives are opened 
up by these observations. Economies in fuel and energy could be achieved 
by adapting to metallurgy certain processes known to the Ancients, nearly 
all of which are based on the action of catalyzers. In this respect my exper- 
iments have been confirmed not only by the work of Dr. Menetrier on the 
catalytic action of oligoelements, but by the research carried out by the 
German, Mittasch, into the part played by catalysis in the chemistry of 
the Ancients. From different sources similar results have been obtained. 
This convergence seems to show that in technology the time has come to 
take into account the fundamental importance of the notion of quality 
and its role in the production of all observable quantitative phenomena. 

"The Ancients were equally familiar with metallurgical processes 
which seem to have been forgotten, e.g., the immersion of copper in cer- 
tain organic solutions. They obtained in this way instruments that were 
extraordinarily hard and penetrating. They were no less skillful in melt- 
ing this metal, even as an oxide A meme a I'etat d'oxyde'). I will cite only 
one example. A friend of mine, a specialist in mine prospecting, discov- 
ered, northwest of Agades in the middle of the Sahara, copper ore bearing 
traces of fusion, and the dregs of a crucible with some metal remains still 
in it. This was not a sulfide, but an oxide; that is to say, a body the reduc- 
tion of which in modern industry raises problems that could not be solved 
over a simple nomad's fire. 

"In the field of alloys, one of the most important in industry today, 
the Ancients were very well informed. Not only did they know how to 



58 


PART ONE 


produce, directly from a complex of ores, alloys possessing remarkable 
properties — a process, incidentally, of great interest to Soviet industry at 
the moment — but they also made use of special alloys such as electrum, 
which we have never had the curiosity to study seriously, although we 
know the formulae for its manufacture. 

"I will only allude briefly to possible developments in the field of 
medicine and pharmaceutics, still almost unexplored and open to limitless 
research. I will merely stress the importance of the question of the treat- 
ment of burns, a matter of increasing urgency in view of the frequency 
of car and airplane accidents. Now it is a fact that it was in the Middle 
Ages, devastated as they were by incessant conflagrations, more than at 
any other time in history, that the best remedies against burns were dis- 
covered, though these recipes have now been completely forgotten. In 
this connection, it should be known that some of the old pharmaceutical 
products not only alleviated pain, but even prevented scars from forming 
and helped to regenerate the injured cells and tissues. 

"With regard to dyes and varnishes, there is no need to remind you 
of the exceedingly high quality of the products prepared according to 
ancient formulae. The admirable colors used by painters in the Middle 
Ages have not, as is commonly believed, been lost; I know of at least one 
manuscript in France which gives the secret of their composition. No one 
has ever thought of adapting or verifying these formulae. And yet our 
modern painters, if they were alive in a hundred years' time, would not 
recognize their pictures, because the colors employed today will not last. 
It would seem, for example, that van Gogh's yellows have already lost 
their extraordinary and characteristic luminosity. 

"On the subject of mines I will merely mention the close connection 
between medical research and mine prospecting. The use of plants for 
therapeutic purposes, which we call phytotherapy, was well known to the 
Ancients and is, in fact, connected with a new science — biogeochemistry. 
The aim of this discipline is to reveal positive anomalies in respect of 
traces of metals found in plants, which indicate the presence of min- 
eral deposits. In this way it is possible to discover specific affinities in 
certain plants for certain metals, and these data can be used for mine 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


59 


prospecting as well as for therapeutic purposes. This is yet another typi- 
cal example of a fact which in my opinion, is the most important in the 
history of techniques — namely, the convergence of the various scientific 
disciplines, which implies a need for constant syntheses. 

"Among other fields of research having practical results in industry I 
would mention that of fertilizers — a vast domain in which the chemists 
of an earlier age obtained results, which are for the most part unknown. 
I am thinking more especially of what they used to call 'the essence of 
fecundity,' a product composed of certain salts mixed with digested or 
distilled manures. 

"Glassmaking in the ancient world is another matter of which we still 
know very little. The Romans used glass flooring, for example, and there 
is no doubt that a study of the processes employed by the old glassmakers 
might be of great assistance in solving certain ultramodern problems such 
as the dissemination of rare soils and of palladium in glass, which would 
make it possible to obtain fluorescent tubes of black light. 

"As regards the textiles industry, despite the triumph of plastics, or 
rather because of it, the best policy would be to concentrate on the pro- 
duction, for the luxury trade, of tissues of very high quality which might 
perhaps be dyed after the manner of the Ancients; or else an effort might 
be made to manufacture that strange material called Pilema. This con- 
sisted of wool or cotton tissues treated with certain acids, and was not 
only fireproof, but also could not be cut or pierced by steel. The process 
was known to the Gauls who used the material for breastplates. 

"The furniture industry, too, owing to the high price of plastic facings, 
might solve this problem advantageously by adapting certain ancient pro- 
cesses, for example, the soaking of timber in a solution which considerably 
increased its resistance to various physical and chemical agents. Building 
contractors, too, would do well to make a study of special cements whose 
ingredients are described in treatises dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries: in many respects, they are much superior to our modern cements. 

"Soviet industrialists have been using recently, in the cutlery trade, 
ceramics that are harder than metal. This hardening process could also be 
studied in the light of old methods of tempering steel. 



60 


PART ONE 


"Finally, though I do not wish to press this point unduly, I would 
suggest that if research in physics could be directed to a study of the prob- 
lems of terrestrial magnetic energy, this might have the most far-reaching 
consequences. There are some very ancient texts dealing with this sub- 
ject, which have never been seriously examined or verified, despite their 
undoubted interest. 

"Whether we are concerned mainly with past experience or future 
possibilities, I believe that from a profoundly realistic point of view, 
we should do better to ignore the present. Such a statement may seem 
paradoxical, but a moment's thought will make it clear that the present 
is nothing but a point of contact between the lines of past and future. 
Taking our stand firmly on the experience of our ancestors, we should 
look forward, rather than down at our feet, and not attach undue impor- 
tance to that brief interval of disequilibrium during which we are passing 
through space and time. The fact that we are moving proves this, and we 
must rely on the lucidity of our vision to keep the balance at all times 
between what has been and what will be." 



The concealment of knowledge and power — The meaning ofrevolutionary 
war — Technology brings back the guilds — A return to the age of the 
Adepts — A fiction writer's prediction, The Power-House" — From 
monarchy to cryptocracy — The secret society as the government of the 
future — Intelligence itself a secret society — A knocking at the door 


In a very strange article, but one which I think reflects the views of 
many French intellectuals, Jean-Paul Sartre refused purely and simply 
to admit the H-bomb's right to exist. Existence, according to the theory 
of this philosopher, precedes essence. But here is a phenomenon whose 
essence he doesn't approve of: therefore he denies its existence. A singu- 
lar contradiction! "The H-bomb," wrote Sartre, "is against history." 

How can a fact of civilization be "against history"? What is history? 



For Sartre, it is the movement that must necessarily bring the masses to 
power. What is the H-bomb? A reserve of power to which only a few have 
access. A very narrow society of scientists, technicians, and politicians can 
decide the destiny ofhumanity. Therefore, so that history can mean what 
we have said it means, let us abolish the H-bomb. . . . Here is an example 
of the apostle of social progressism demanding that progress should be 
halted. A sociology with its roots in the nineteenth century asking to go 
back to the age in which it was born. Let there be no misunderstanding. 
For us it is not a question either of approving the fabrication of weapons 
of destruction or of decrying the thirst for justice that inspires all that is 
purest in human societies; it is a question of looking at things from a dif- 
ferent angle. 

1. It is true that the existence of the "ultimate weapon" is an appall- 
ing danger for humanity. But the fewer the people who control 
such weapons, the less likely are they to be used. Human society 
in the modern world survives only because decisions are made by 
a very small number of men. 

2. Nothing can be done with these "ultimate" weapons except develop 
them further. In the realm of avant-garde operational research the 
frontiers between good and evil are continually shrinking. Every 
discovery at the level of basic structures is at the same time both 
positive and negative. Moreover, as techniques progress, they do 
not become more complicated: on the contrary, they get simpler, 
moving on to a plane where elementals are involved. The num- 
ber of operations diminishes, and less equipment is required. In 
the end men will hold the key to universal forces in the hollow of 
their hand. A child will be able to make and handle it. The more 
simplification becomes synonymous with power, the more neces- 
sary will it become to hide what is going on behind higher barriers 
in order to preserve the continuity of life. 

3. This occultation, moreover, happens automatically, as real power 
passes to the scientists and scholars. The latter have their own lan- 
guage and their own ways of thinking. This is not an artificial 



PART ONE 


barrier. Their language is different because their thought is on a 
different level. The scientists have convinced the rich that they 
would be better off, and the ruling classes that they would become 
more powerful if they invoked their help. And they have rapidly 
won for themselves a position beyond wealth and beyond govern- 
ments. How has this been doner In the first place, by making 
everything infinitely complicated. When intellectuals wish to gain 
control they complicate as much as possible the system they wish 
to destroy so as to tender it defenseless, as the spider enmeshes its 
victims in its web. The so-called "rulers," the propertied and gov- 
erning classes, are no longer anything but intermediaries in an 
epoch which is itself intermediary. 

4. While "ultimate" weapons are produced in ever greater numbers 
the character of war is changing. An uninterrupted combat goes 
on in the form of guerrillas, palace revolutions, ambushes, maquis 
(underground movement), articles, books, and speeches. Instead of 
ordinary wars there are revolutionary wars. These new forms of 
war correspond to a change in the aims and aspirations of human- 
ity. Wars used to be waged for material ends; revolutionary wars 
are fought to change the conditions in which men live. Formerly 
men destroyed one another in order to acquire territory, while 
the spoil was shared between the conquerors. Today, throughout 
this incessant struggle, resembling nothing so much as a dance of 
insects interlocking their antennae, it would seem that human- 
ity was seeking some sort of union, a grouping of forces, a unity 
that would change the face of the Earth. Instead of wanting to 
enjoy things, today, men want to do them. The intellectuals, who 
have not forgotten to prepare for psychological warfare, also have 
a hand in this profound change of attitude. The revolutionary war 
corresponds to the birth of a new spirit: the workers' spirit. The 
spirit of the ouvriers de la Terre. It is in this sense that history 
represents a Messianic movement of the masses. This movement 
coincides with the concentration of knowledge in the hands of a 
few. This is the phase we are now going through in our campaign 



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63 


for agrowing integration of man into the Universe as a whole, and 
a continuous spiritualization of the mind. 

Let us descend to concrete cases, and we shall find ourselves once more in the 
era of secret societies. When we ascend again to consider more important, 
and consequently less visible facts, we shall see that we are also returning 
to the age of the Adepts. The Adepts (or Initiates) spread their knowledge 
among a group of societies organized to keep new techniques secret. It is 
not impossible to imagine a world run on these lines in the very near future. 
Except for the fact that history does not repeat itself. Or, rather, if it does 
pass the same point, it does so on a higher level of the spiral. 

Throughout history, the preservation of techniques has always been 
one of the objects of the secret societies. The Egyptian priests were the 
jealous guardians of the laws of plane geometry. Recent researches have 
established the existence at Baghdad of a society that possessed the secret 
of the electric battery and the monopoly of galvanoplastics two thousand 
years ago. The Middle Ages saw the formation in France, Germany, and 
Spain of technicians' guilds. Consider the history of alchemy: the secret 
method of coloring glass red by introducing gold at the moment of fusion; 
the secret of Greek Fire — a mixture of coagulated linseed oil and gelatin, 
the forerunner of napalm. Not all the secrets of the Middle Ages have 
been recovered, e.g., that of a flexible mineral glass, or the simple method 
of obtaining la lumierefroide (cold light), etc. 

We also observe the apparition of groups of technicians preserving 
secrets of manufacture, either artisan techniques for making such things 
as harmonicas or glass ball bearings, or industrial techniques, e.g., for 
the production of synthetic gasoline. In the great American atomic cen- 
ters the physicists wear badges indicating the level of their qualifications 
and the extent of their responsibilities, and may only speak to those who 
wear the same badge as themselves. They form clubs, and friendships and 
attachments are formed within the same category. 

In this way, closed circles come into being very similar to the guilds 
of the Middle Ages, whether the subject of study be jet airplanes, cyclo- 
trons, or electronics. In 1956 thirty-five Chinese students on leaving the 



64 


PART ONE 


Massachusetts Institute of Technology asked to return to their country. 
They had not been working on military problems, but it was considered 
that they knew too much and they were forbidden to leave the country. 
The Chinese Government, anxious to secure the return of these enlight- 
ened young people, proposed in exchange to send back some American 
airmen who had been detained on charges of espionage. 

The safe-keeping of techniques and scientific secrets cannot be entrusted 
to the police. Or. rather, security officials today are obliged to know some- 
thing about the sciences and techniques which it is their duty to protect. 
These specialists are trained to work in nuclear laboratories, and nuclear 
physicists are to be responsible for their security. This leads to the creation 
of a caste more powerful than governments and political police. 

To complete the picture, one has only to think of the groups of 
experts who are prepared to work for the country that offers the most 
advantageous terms. These are the new mercenaries, the "hired men-at- 
arms" of our civilization in which the conclottiere (mercenary leaders) wear 
white overalls. South Africa, Argentina, and India are their best hunting 
grounds where they win for themselves positions of real authority. 

If we turn now to the less visible but more important facts, we shall 
see that we are witnessing a return to the age of the Adepts. "Nothing in 
the Universe can resist the cumulative ardor of a sufficiently large number 
of enlightened minds working together in organized groups": Teilhard de 
Chardin told this in confidence to George Magloire. 

More than fifty years ago John Buchan, who was an important figure 
in British politics, wrote a short story, which was at the same time a mes- 
sage intended for the ears of a few enlightened individuals. In this story, 
entitled (and not by chance) "The Power-House," the hero meets a distin- 
guished gentleman who, in the course of a seemingly casual conversation, 
puts forward some very disturbing ideas:* 

"Of course there are many key-points in civilization," I said, "and the 

loss of them would bring ruin. But those keys are strongly held." 


'Extract from "The Power-House" by John Buchan (London: Longmans Green & Co.). 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


"Not as strongly as you think. Consider how delicate the machin- 
ery is growing. As life grows more complex, the machinery grows 
more intricate, and therefore more vulnerable. Your so-called sanc- 
tions become so infinitely numerous that each in itself is frail. In the 
Dark Ages you had one great power — the terror of God, and His 
Church. Now you have a multiplicity of small things, all delicate 
and fragile, and strong only by our tacit agreement not to question 
them.” 

"You forget one thing," I said, "the fact that men really are agreed 
to keep the machine going. That is what I call the 'goodwill of 
civilization.'" 

"You have put your finger on the one thing that matters. 
Civilization is a conspiracy. What value would your police be if 
every criminal could find a sanctuary across the Channel, or your 
law courts, if no other tribunal recognized their decisions? Modern 
life is the silent compact of comfortable folk to keep up pretenses. 
And it will succeed till the day comes when there is another com- 
pact to strip them bare." 

"We won't dispute on the indisputable," I said. "But I should have 
thought that it was in the interest of all the best brains of the world 
to keep up what you call the conspiracy." 

"I wonder," he said slowly. "Do we really get the best brains work- 
ing on the side of the compact. Take the business of government. 
When all said is said, we are ruled by amateurs and the second-rate. 
The methods of our departments would bring any private firm 
to bankruptcy. The methods of Parliament — pardon me — would 
disgrace any board of directors. Our rulers pretend to buy expert 
knowledge, but they never pay the price for it that a business man 
would pay, and if they get it they have not the courage to use it. 
Where is the inducement for a man of genius to sell his brains to 
our insipid governors? 

"And yet knowledge is the only power — now as ever. A little 
mechanical device will wreck your navies. A new chemical combina- 
tion will upset every rule of war. It is the same with our commerce. 



PART ONE 


One or two minute changes might sink Britain to the level of 
Ecuador, or give China the key of the world's wealth. And yet we 
never dream that these things are possible. We think our castles of 
sand are the ramparts of the Universe." 

I have never had the gift of the gab, but I admire it in others. 
There is a morbid charm in such talk, a kind of exhilaration, of 
which one is half ashamed. I found myself interested, and more than 
a little impressed. 

"But surely," I said, "the first thing a discoverer does is to make 
his discovery public. He wants the honor and glory, and he wants 
money for it. It becomes part of the world's knowledge, and every- 
thing is readjusted to meet it. That was what happened with elec- 
tricity. You call our civilization a machine, but it is something far 
more flexible. It has the power of adaptation of a living organism.” 

"That might be true if the new knowledge really became the 
world's property. But does it? I read now and then in the papers that 
some eminent scientist had made a great discovery. He reads a paper 
before some Academy of Science, and there are leading articles on it 
and his photograph adorns the magazines. That kind of man is not 
the danger. He is a bit of the machine, a party to the compact. It is 
the men who stand outside it that are to be reckoned with, the art- 
ists in discovery who will never use their knowledge till they can use 
it with full effect. Believe me, the biggest brains are without the ring 
which we call civilization." 

Then his voice seemed to hesitate. 

"You may hear people say that submarines have done away with 
the battleship, and that aircraft have annulled the mastery of the sea. 
That is what our pessimists say. But do you imagine that the clumsy 
submarine or the fragile airplane is really the last word of science?" 

"No doubt they will develop," I said, "but by that time the power 
of the defense will have advanced also.” 

He shook his head. "It is not so. Even now the knowledge, which 
makes possible great engines of destruction, is far beyond the capacity 
of any defense. You see only the productions of second-rate folk who 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


are in a hurry to get wealth and fame. The true knowledge, the deadly 
knowledge is still kept secret. But, believe me, my friend, it is there." 

He paused for a second; and I saw the faint outline of the smoke 
from his cigar against the background of the dark. Then he quoted 
me one or two cases, slowly, as if in some doubt about the wisdom 
of his words. 

It was these cases that startled me. They were of different kinds — 
a great calamity, a sudden breach between two nations, a blight on a 
vital crop, a war, a pestilence. I will not repeat them. I do not think 
I believed in them then, and now I believe less. But they were hor- 
ribly impressive, as told in that quiet voice in that somber room on 
that dark June night. If he was right, these things had not been the 
work of Nature or accident but of a devilish art. The nameless brains 
that he spoke of, working silently in the background, now and then 
showed their power by some cataclysmic revelation. I did not believe 
him, but, as he put the case, showing with strange clearness the steps 
in the game, I had no words to protest. At last I found my voice: 

"What you describe is super-anarchy, and yet it makes no head- 
way. What is the motive of those diabolical brains?" 

He laughed. "How should I be able to tell you? I am a humble 
inquirer, and in my researches I come on curious bits of facts. But I 
cannot pry into motives. I only know of the existence of great extra- 
social intelligences. Let us say they distrust the machine. They may be 
idealists and desire to make a new world, or they may simply be artists, 
loving for its own sake the pursuit of truth. If I were to hazard a guess, 
I should say that it took both types to bring about results, for the sec- 
ond to find the knowledge and the first the will to use it." 

A souvenir came back to me. It was of a hot upland meadow in 
Tyrol, where among acres of flowers and beside a leaping stream 
I was breakfasting after a morning spent in climbing the white 
crags. I had picked up a German on the way, a small man of the 
Professor class, who did me the honor to share my sandwiches. He 
conversed fluently but quaintly in English, and he was, I remember, 
a Nietzschean and a hot rebel against the established order. 



PART ONE 


"The pity," he cried, "is that the reformers do not know, and those 
who know are too idle to reform. Some day there will come the mar- 
riage ofknowledge and will, and then the world will march." 

"You draw an awful picture," I said to my host. "But if those 
extra-social brains are so potent, why after all do they effect so little? 
A dull police officer, with the machine behind him, can afford to 
laugh at most experiments in anarchy." 

"True," he said, "and civilization will win until its enemies learn 
from it the importance of the machine. The compact must endure 
until there is a counter-compact. Consider the ways of that form of 
foolishness which today we call nihilism or anarchy. A few illiterate 
bandits in a Paris slum defy the world, and in a week they are in 
jail. Haifa dozen crazy Russian intellectuals in Geneva conspire to 
upset the Romanoffs, and are hunted down by the police of Europe. 
All the Governments and their not very intelligent police forces join 
hands, and, hey presto! there is an end of the conspirators. For civi- 
lization knows how to use such powers as it has, while the immense 
potentiality of the unlicensed is dissipated in vapor. Civilization 
wins because it is a worldwide league; its enemies fail because they 
are parochial. But supposing. . . ." 

Again he stopped and rose from his chair. He found a switch and 
flooded the room with light. I glanced up, blinking to see my host smil- 
ing down on me, a most benevolent and courteous old gentleman. 

"I want to hear the end of your prophecies," I said. "You were 
saying ... ?" 

"I said: supposing anarchy learned from civilization and became 
international. Oh, I don't mean the bands of advertising donkeys 
who call themselves the International Union of Workers and such- 
like rubbish. I mean if the real brain stuff of the world were interna- 
tionalized. Suppose that the links in the cordon of civilization were 
neutralized by other links in a far more potent chain. The Earth 
is seething with incoherenr power and unorganized intelligence. 
Have you ever reflected on rhe case of China? There you have mil- 
lions of quick brains stifled in trumpery crafts. They have no direc- 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


69 


tion, no driving power, so the sum of their efforts is futile, and the 
world laughs at China. Europe throws her a million or two on loan 
now and then, and she cynically responds by begging the prayers of 
Christendom. And yet, I say, supposing . . 

"It's a horrible idea," I said, "and, thank God, I don't believe it 
possible. Mere destruction is too barren a creed to inspire a new 
Napoleon, and you can do with nothing short of one." 

"It would scarcely be destruction," he replied gently. "Let us call 
it iconoclasm, the swallowing of formulas, which has always had its 
full retinue of idealists. And you do not want a Napoleon. All that 
is needed is direction, which could be given by men of far lower gifts 
than a Bonaparte. In a word, you want a Power-House, and then the 
age of miracles will begin." 

When one reflects that Buchan wrote these lines about 1910, and then looks 
back on all the upheavals the world has endured since then and the mass 
movements which are sweeping through China, Africa, and India, one may 
well wonder whether, after all, one or more of these powerhouses has not 
been active. This view will only appear romantic to superficial observers, 
i.e., to historians wedded to the theory that "facts explain events,” which, in 
the last resort, depends on the way in which you choose your facts. 

Elsewhere in this book we shall be describing a powerhouse which 
failed, but only after it had plunged the world into a bath of blood 
and fire: the Fascist powerhouse. Nor can one doubt the existence of a 
Communist powerhouse, or question its prodigious efficiency. "Nothing 
in the Universe can resist the cumulative ardor of a sufficiently large num- 
ber of enlightened minds working together in organized groups." I repeat 
my quotation, the truth of which is startling in this context. 

Our ideas about secret societies are academic; we take a conventional 
view of extraordinary facts. It we want to understand the world of the 
future, we shall have to reconsider and refresh our ideas about secret soci- 
eties by making a more thorough study of the past and discovering a point 
of view which will render intelligible the phase of history through which 


we are now passing. 



70 


PART ONE 


It is possible, even probable, that the secret society will be the future 
form of government in the new world of the "esprit ouvrier" (mind of the 
working class). Let us take a quick glance at the way things have devel- 
oped. The monarchies claimed to possess supernatural powers. Kings and 
nobles and ministers and all the other authorities try to appear more than 
natural, and to arouse astonishment and admiration by their way of dress- 
ing, living, and behaving. They do everything they can to attract notice; 
they encourage pomp and ceremony. And they are always on view, infi- 
nitely approachable and infinitely different. Remember the French king 
Henri IV with his: "Ralliez-vous a mon panache bland" (Follow my white 
plume!). And sometimes in summer the king bathed naked in the Seine, 
in the heart of Paris. Louis XIV was a sun, but anybody at any time was 
free to enter the palace and be present at his table. Always exposed to the 
public view, demigods decked in gold and feathers, continually attract- 
ing attention and living two lives, one private and the other public. After 
the Revolution, abstract theories prevailed, and governments concealed 
themselves. The authorities made a point of being "like everyone else," 
but at the same time adopted a haughty attitude. On the personal, as 
well as on the factual plane, it became difficult to define exactly what 
the government consisted of. Modern democracies lend themselves to 
a thousand and one "esoteric" interpretations. Some intellectuals assert 
that America is governed by a handful of industrial tycoons, England by 
the City bankers, France by the Freemasons, etc. With the advent of gov- 
ernments thrown up by revolutionary wars, power is almost completely 
hidden. Observers of the Chinese revolution, the war in Indo-China, the 
Algerian War, the special agents in the Soviet world, are all impressed by 
the way in which power is submerged in the mystery of the Masses, by 
the secrecy surrounding the responsible authorities, by the impossibility 
of knowing "who is who" and "who decides what." 

A veritable "cryptocracy" has taken over. We have no time now to ana- 
lyze this phenomenon, but a volume might well be written about what we 
have called the "cryptocracy." In a novel by Jean Larteguy, who took part in 
the revolution of Azerbaidjan, the war in Palestine, and the Korean War, a 
French captain is taken prisoner after the defeat of Dien-Bien-Phu: 



AN OPEN CONSPIRACY 


71 


Glatigny found himself in a tunnel-shaped shelter, long and narrow. 

He was sitting on the ground, his naked back propped against the 
earth walls. Opposite him a nha-que (peasant) squatting on his heels, 
was smoking some foul tobacco rolled in an old piece of newspaper. 

The nha-que was bare-headed, and wearing a khaki uniform 
without any badges of rank. He had no sandals, and was wiggling 
his roes voluptuously in the warm mud. Berween puffs he said a few 
words, and a supple-jointed bo-doi (soldier), looking like a "boy," 
leaned toward Glatigny: 

"The battalion commander, he ask where is French major com- 
manding post." 

Glatigny's reaction was that of a regular Army officer; he could 
not believe that this nha-que squatting there smoking stinking 
tobacco was in command, like himself, of a battalion, and had the 
same rank and responsibilities. . .. He must, then, have been one of 
the officers of the 308th Division, the best and the most efficiently 
staffed in the whole Popular Army. So it was this peasant from the 
rice plantations who had beaten him — him, Glatigny, descendant of 
one of the great military dynasties of the West. . . . 

Paul Mousset, the well-known journalist, and a war correspondent in 
Indo-China and Algeria, once said to me: "I have always thought that 
the 'boy,' or the small shopkeeper were perhaps the ones who wielded the 
greatest authority .... The new world camouflages its leaders, like those 
insects that resemble twigs or leaves.. . ." 

After the downfall of Stalin, the political experts were unable to agree 
as to the identity ofthe real ruler ofthe U.S.S.R. Just as they were telling us 
at last that it was Beria, the news came ofhis assassination. No one could 
possibly name the real rulers of a country with authority over a thousand 
million souls and extending over half the inhabited areas ofthe globe. 

The threat of war is what reveals the true form of governments. In 
June 1955, America had planned ah operation simulating actual war 
conditions in the course of which the Government left Washington to 
carry on "somewhere in the United States." In the event of this refuge 



72 


PART ONE 


being destroyed, arrangements had been made for this government to 
transfer its powers to a "shadow government" that had been already con- 
stituted. This latter consisted of senators, deputies, and experts whose 
names could not be disclosed. Thus the way to a cryptocracy, in one of 
the most powerful countries on this planet, was officially indicated. 

Should war break out, we should no doubt see the regular govern- 
ments replaced by "shadow" governments installed, perhaps for the United 
States in some caves in Virginia, and for the U.S.S.R. on a floating sta- 
tion in the Arctic. And from that moment it would be treason to disclose 
the identity of the countries' rulers. Equipped with electronic brains to 
reduce administrative staff to a minimum, secret societies would organize 
the gigantic conflict between the two great blocs of humanity. It is even 
conceivable that these governments might be situated outside our world, 
in artificial satellites revolving around the Earth. 

We are not indulging in philosophy-fiction or history-fiction, but in a 
fantastic realism. We are skeptical with regard to many points about which 
others, who are considered to be "reasonable" men, are less so. We are not 
in any way trying to focus attention on some empty kind of occultism, 
or to suggest a semicrazy, semimagical interpretation of facts. Nor are we 
proposing some form of religion. We believe only in human intelligence, 
and we believe that, at a certain level, intelligence itself is a kind of secret 
society. We believe that its powers are unlimited when it can develop to 
its fullest extent, like an oak tree growing freely in the forest, instead of 
being dwarfed like a plant in a pot. 

It is therefore in the light of the discoveries we have just been making, 
and of others, still stranger, which we shall soon be confronted with, that 
we should try to reconsider our conception of a secret society. Here, as 
elsewhere, we have been able only to outline briefly the general direction 
of future researches and reflections. And we are well aware that the view 
we take of things may well seem mad: this is because we are saying rapidly 
and brutally what we have to say, like a man knocking on a sleeper's door 
when time is running short. 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


An alchemist in the Cafe Procope in — A conversation about 
Gurdjieff—A believer in the reality of the philosopher's stone — / change 
my ideas about the value of progress — What we really think about alchemy: 
neither a revelation nor a groping in the dark — Some reflections on the 
"spiral" and on hope 

It was in March 1953 that I met an alchemist for the first time. It was at 
the Cafe Procope in Paris, which was then coming into fashion again. A 
famous poet, during the time I was writing my book on Gurdjieff, had 
arranged the meeting, and I was often to see this singular man again, 
though I never succeeded in penetrating his secrets. 

My ideas about alchemy and alchemists were rudimentary and derived 
from popular literature on the subject, and I had no idea that alchemists 
still existed. The man seated opposite me at Voltaire's table was young 
and elegant. After a thorough classical education he had studied chemis- 
try. He was then earning his living in business and knew a lot of artists, as 
well as some society people. I do not keep a regular diary, but sometimes, 
on important occasions, I jot down my impressions and make comments. 
That night, when I got home, I wrote as follows: 

How old can he be? He says thirty-five. That seems surprising. He 
has white, curly hair, trimmed so as to look like a wig. Lots of deep 
wrinkles in a pink skin and full features. Few gestures, but slow, cal- 
culated and effective when he does make them. A calm, keen smile; 
eyes that laugh, but in a detached sort of way. Everything about him 


73 



PART ONE 


suggests another age. In conversation, highly articulate and com- 
pletely self possessed. Something of the sphinx behind that affable, 
timeless countenance. Incomprehensible. And this is not merely my 
personal impression. A. B. who sees him nearly every day, tells me 
he has never, for a second, found him lacking in a "superior degree 
of objectivity." 

The reasons why he rejects Gurdjieff: 

1. Whoever feels an urge to teach is not living his own doctrine com- 
pletely and has not attained the heights of initiation. 

2. In Gurdjieff's teaching there is no material point of contact 
between the pupil who has been convinced of his own insignif- 
icance and the energy he must succeed in acquiring in order to 
become a real being. This energy — this "will to will" as Gurdjieff 
puts it — the pupil is supposed to find in himself and nowhere 
else. Now this approach is partially false, and can only lead to 
despair. This energy exists outside man, and must be captured. 
The Roman Catholic swallows the host — a ritual way of inter- 
cepting this energy. But if you have no faith? In that case, have a 
fire — that is all the alchemy is. A real fire. Everything begins and 
everything happens through contact with matter. 

3. Gurdjieff did not live alone but always had a crowd around him. 
"There are roads in solitude and rivers in the desert," but there 
are no roads and no rivers in a man who is always mixed up with 
other men. 

I asked him some questions about alchemy, which he must have 
thought completely foolish. Without showing it, he replied: 

"Matter is everything: contact with matter, working with matter, 
working with the hands." He made a great point of this: 

"Are you fond of gardening? That's a good start; alchemy is like 
gardening. Do you like fishing? Alchemy has something in common 
with fishing. Woman's work and children's games. 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


75 


"Alchemy cannot be taught. All the great works of literature 
which have come down to us through the centuries contain ele- 
ments of this. teaching. They are the product of truly adult minds 
which have spoken to children, while respecting the' laws of adult 
knowledge. A great work is never wrong as regards basic principles. 

But the knowledge of those principles and the road that led to this 
knowledge must remain secret. Nevertheless, there is an obligation 
on first-degree searchers to help one another." 

Around midnight I asked him about Fulcanelli, author of Le 
Mystere des Cathedrales (The Mystery of the Cathedrals) and Les 
Demeures philosophales (The Dwellings of Philosophers), and he 
gave me to understand that Fulcanelli is not dead: "It is possible 
to live infinitely longer than an unawakened man could believe. 

And one's appearance can change completely. I know this; my eyes 
know it. I also know that there is such a thing as the philosopher's 
stone. But this is matter on a different level, and not as we know 
it. But here, as elsewhere, it is still possible to take measurements. 

The methods of working and measuring are simple, and do not 
require any complicated apparatus: women's work and children's 
games. . . ." 

He added: "Patience, hope, work. And whatever the work may 
be, one can never work hard enough. As to hope: in alchemy hope 
is based on the certainty that there is a goal to attain. I would never 
have begun had I not been convinced that this goal exists and can 
be attained in this life." 

Such was my first contact with alchemy. If I had begun to study it in 
the books of "magic," I do not think I should have got very far for lack 
of time, and because I have little taste for literary erudition. No sense 
of vocation either — such as an alchemist (though he does not know 
yet that he is one) feels when for the first time he turns the pages of 
some old treatise. My vocation is not for doing, but for understanding; 
I am a spectator rather than an actor. I think, like my old friend Andre 
Billy, that "to be able to understand is as fine a thing as to be able to 



76 


PART ONE 


sing," even if one's understanding is only of brief duration.* 

I am a man in a hurry, like most of my contemporaries. I had the most 
recent contact imaginable with alchemy: a conversation in a bistro at Saint- 
Germain-des-Pres. Later, when I was trying to grasp the real meaning of 
what that "young” man had told me, I met Jacques Bergier, who doesn't 
work in a dusty old garret full of antiquated books, but in places where the 
life of our century is concentrated — a laboratory and an information bureau. 
Bergier, too, was seeking something along the lines of alchemy, but not with 
the idea of making a pilgrimage into the past. This extraordinary little man, 
completely preoccupied with the secrets of atomic energy, had taken this 
path as a short cut. I dashed at supersonic speed, hard on his heels, through 
ancient texts compiled by wise men in love with leisureliness, intoxicated 
with patience. Bergier enjoyed the confidence of some of those men who 
still engage in alchemy. He was also in touch with modern scientists. 

I soon became convinced, from what he told me, that there is a close 
connection between traditional alchemy and avant-garde science. I saw 
how intelligence was building a bridge between two worlds. I ventured 
on to this bridge, and found that it held. This made me very happy and 
relieved me of my anxieties. Having for a long time taken refuge in anti- 
progressist thought, along Hindu lines and influence by Gurdjieff, seeing 
the world of today as a prelude to the Apocalypse, full of despair at the 
prospect of a disastrous end to everything and not very sure of myself in 
my proud isolation, suddenly I saw the old past and the future shaking 
hands. The alchemists' metaphysics, thousands ofyears old, had concealed 
a technique which at last, in the twentieth century, had become almost 
comprehensible. The terrifying modern techniques opened up metaphysi- 
cal horizons very like those of ancient times. My retreat from reality was 
nothing but false romanticism. On either side of the bridge, men's immor- 
tal souls had kindled the same fires. 

"In his Ballad of Reading Gaol Oscar Wilde makes the discovery that mental inatten- 
tion is the worst crime, and that intense mental concentration reveals not only the com- 
plete coherence of all the events in a man’s life, but also, no doubt, on a vaster scale, the 
complete concordance and harmony between everything in Creation. And he exclaims: 
"Everything understood is good." I know of no finer saying. 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


77 


In the end I came to believe that in the far distant past, men had 
discovered the secrets of energy and matter. Not only in thought, but by 
manipulation; not only spiritually but technically. 

Now the modern mind, by a different approach and by the meth- 
ods that I had long found distasteful, of pure reason and irreligion and 
by methods that displeased me, was in its turn preparing to discover the 
same secrets, with a mixture of curiosity, enthusiasm, and apprehension. It 
was face to face with essentials in the spirit of the best tradition. 

I then perceived that the opposition between age-old "wisdom" and con- 
temporary "madness" was the invention of feeble and backward minds, a com- 
pensatory product for intellectuals incapable of keeping up with the times. 

There are several ways of gaining access to essential knowledge. Our 
age has its own methods; older civilizations had theirs. And I am not 
speaking only of theoretical knowledge. 

Finally I realized that, with modern techniques being apparently more 
efficient than those of yesterday, this essential knowledge that the alche- 
mists (and other wise men before them) no doubt possessed, would reach 
us with still greater force and weight and would be more dangerous and 
more demanding. We are getting to the same point as the Ancients, but 
on a different level. Rather than condemn the modern spirit in the name 
of the initiatory wisdom of the Ancients, or repudiate this wisdom on the 
grounds that real knowledge only began with our civilization, we should 
do better to admire and even venerate the power of the mind, which, under 
different aspects, traverses the same point of light, mounting upwards in a 
spiral ascent. Instead of condemning, repudiating, and choosing, we ought 
to love. Love is everything: both rest and movement at the same time. 

And now for the results of our researches on alchemy. It will only be a 
brief resume, naturally, for even if we had the time and the ability (which 
perhaps we do not possess), it would take us ten or twenty years to make 
a really conclusive contribution to the subject. Nevertheless, what we 
have accomplished and the way in which we have done it, are enough to 
make our little study very different from the works on alchemy that have 
appeared hitherto. 



78 


PART ONE 


The reader will find little new information on the history and phi- 
losophy of this traditional science; my object has been to throw some new 
light on some unsuspected links between the dreams of the old "chemist- 
philosophers" and the realities of modern physics. Let us, then sum up our 
conclusions as follows: 

Alchemy, in our view, could be one of the most important relics of 
a science, a technology, and a philosophy belonging to a civilization that 
has disappeared. What we have discovered in alchemy in the light of 
contemporary knowledge does not lead us to believe that techniques so 
subtle, so complicated, and so precise can have been the result of a "divine 
revelation" fallen from Heaven. Not that we reject altogether the notion 
of a revelation. But in what we have read about the saints and the great 
mystics we have never noticed that God spoke to men in technical lan- 
guage: "Place thy crucible, O my Son, tinder polarized light! Rinse out 
the slag in water thrice distilled!" 

Nor do we believe that the alchemists developed their techniques by 
blind gropings, or through the insignificant tinkerings of ignorant ama- 
teurs or the fantastic dreams of fanatics, to arrive at what we can only 
call the disintegration of the atom. Rather we are tempted to believe that 
alchemy contains the fragments of a science that has been lost, fragments 
that, in the absence of their context, we find it difficult to understand or 
to make use of. Progress from this point must necessarily be halting, but 
in a definite direction. There is also a profusion of technical, moral, and 
religious interpretations. Finally, on those in whose hands these fragments 
are preserved, there is an imperious obligation to maintain secrecy. 

We believe that our civilization on acquiring in different conditions 
and with a different approach, knowledge that is perhaps a legacy from a 
previous civilization, would perhaps have much to gain by a serious study 
of ancient lore with a view to hastening its own progress. 

Finally, we believe that the alchemist, on concluding his operations 
with matter, feels, as the legend relates, a kind of transmutation taking 
place within himself. The things that happen in his crucible are also hap- 
pening in his mind or in his soul. His condition changes. 

All the traditional texts stress this phenomenon and evoke the 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


79 


moment when the "Great Work" is accomplished and the alchemist 
becomes an "awakened man." It would seem that these old texts describe 
in this way the final stage of all real knowledge of the laws of matter and 
of energy, including technical knowledge. This is the knowledge toward 
which our civilization is now heading with all speed. It does not seem 
to us unreasonable to suppose that men will be called upon, in the near 
future, to "change their condition," just as the alchemist, according to the 
legend, underwent a kind of transmutation. Unless, of course, our civili- 
zation should be entirely destroyed on the brink of its reaching its goal 
as other civilizations before it have perhaps disappeared. Even so, in our 
last second of lucidity, we should not despair, remembering that if the 
adventure of the mind repeats itself, it is always one step higher on the 
spiral. We would then entrust to other epochs the mission of conducting 
this adventure to its final stage, the center of immobility, and go down to 
destruction with hope in our hearts. 


II 


A hundred thousand hooks that no one reads — Wanted: a scientific 
expedition to the land ofthe alchemists — The inventors — Madness from 
mercury — A code language — Was there another atomic civilization? — The 
electric batteries ofthe museum at Baghdad — Newton and the great 
Initiates — Helvetius and Spinoza and the philosopher's stone — Alchemy 
and modern physics — A hydrogen bomb in an oven — Transformation of 
matter, men, and spirits 


More than a hundred thousand books and manuscripts on alchemy are 
known to exist. This vast literature, to which the finest minds have con- 
tributed and which solemnly affirms its attachment to facts and practical 
experiments, has never been systematically explored. The current intellec- 
tual climate. Catholic in the past, rationalist today, has always maintained 
in regard to these texts an attitude of ignorance or scorn. A hundred thou- 
sand books and manuscripts perhaps contain some ofthe secrets of energy 



80 


PART ONE 


and matter. If this is not true, they proclaim it nevertheless. Kings and 
princes and republics have encouraged innumerable expeditions to distant 
lands, and have financed scientific researches of every kind. Never, how- 
ever, has a team of decoders, historians, linguists, and scholars, physicists, 
chemists, mathematicians, and biologists been assembled in an alchemist 
library with the task of discovering what these old treatises contain that 
is true and can be put to practical use. It seems inconceivable. The fact 
that such mental obtuseness is possible and that civilized human societies 
like ours, devoid of prejudices of any kind, can forget the presence in their 
attics of a hundred thousand books and manuscripts labeled "Treasure" 
should be enough to convince the most skeptical among us that we are 
living in a fantastic world. 

The scanty research that has been done on alchemy has been carried 
out either by mystics seeking in texts the confirmation of their spiritual 
attitudes, or else by historians completely out of touch with science and 
technology. 

The alchemists speak of the necessity of distilling water to be used 
in the preparation of the elixir many thousands of times. We have heard 
an expert historian declare such an operation to be completely crazy. He 
knew nothing whatever about heavy water and the methods employed to 
convert ordinary water into heavy water. We have heard a learned scientist 
affirm that since endless repetitions of the process of refining and purify- 
ing metals and metalloids do not in any way alter their properties, the 
recommendations of the alchemists in this connection could only be con- 
sidered as a kind of mystic lesson in patience, a ritual gesture, like telling 
the beads of a rosary. And yet it is by just such a refining process and the 
technique described by the alchemists known today as "zone fusion," that 
the germanium and silicon used in transistors is prepared. We know now, 
thanks to the work done on these transistors, that by purifying a metal 
very thoroughly and then introducing minute quantities, some millionths 
of a gram, of impurities carefully selected, the substance thus treated is 
endowed with new and revolutionary properties. It is unnecessary to go 
on citing examples indefinitely, but we wish to stress the desirability of 
undertaking a really methodical study of alchemist literature. This would 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


be an immense task demanding many years of work and hundreds of 
research workers drawn from every branch of the sciences. Neither Bergier 
nor myself have been able even to draft the outline of such a study, but if 
our book ever inspired some Maecenas to sponsor this undertaking, we 
shall not have wasted our time completely. 


In our brief survey of alchemist texts we observed that they are for the 
most part "modern" compared to other occult works of the same date. 
Moreover, alchemy is the only parareligious activity that has made a real 
contribution to our knowledge of reality. 

Albert le Grand (1193-1280) succeeded in producing potassium lye, 
and was the first to describe the chemical composition of cinnabar, 
white lead, and minium. 

Raymond Lull (1235-1315) prepared bicarbonate of potassium. 

Theophrastes Paracelsus (1493-1541) was the first to describe zinc, 
hitherto unknown. He also introduced the use in medicine of 
chemical compounds. 

Giambattista della Porta (1541-1615) produced tin monoxide. 

Johann-Baptiste Van Helmont (1577-1644) recognized the exis- 
tence of gases. 

Basil Valentin (whose real identity is still unknown) discovered, in 
the seventeenth century, sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid. 

Johann Rudolf Glauber (1604-1668) discovered sodium sulfate. 

Hennig Brandt (d. 1692) discovered phosphorus. 

Johann Friedrich Bocttichcr (1682-1719) was the first European to 
make porcelain. 

Blaise Vigenere (1523-1596) discovered benzoic acid. 

These are some of the alchemist achievements which enriched human- 
ity at a time when chemistry was progressing.* While other sciences were 
developing, alchemy seems to follow, and sometimes precede this progress. 

*Le Miroir de la Magie (The Magic Mirror), by Kurt Seligmann, Fasquelle, Paris. 



82 


PART ONE 


Le Breton, in his Clefs de la Philosophie Spagyrique* (1722) has some more 
than ordinarily intelligent things to say about magnetism, and frequently 
anticipates modern discoveries. Pere Castel. in 1728 when ideas about 
gravitation were beginning to circulate, speaks about this and its relation 
to light in terms which, two centuries later, seem astonishingly similar to 
Einstein's ideas: 

I have said that if one took away the Earth's gravity one would take 
away light at the same time. For indeed, light and sound and all 
other qualities perceptible to our senses proceed from and are, as 
it were, a result of the mechanical structure, and consequently the 
gravity of natural bodies which are luminous or sonorous in propor- 
tion to their degree of gravity and buoyancy. 

In the alchemist literature of our own century we often find the lat- 
est discoveries in nuclear physics before they have appeared in univer- 
sity publications; and it is probable that the treatises of tomorrow will 
be dealing with the most advanced and abstract theories in physics and 
mathematics. 

There is a clear distinction between alchemy and the pseudosciences, 
such as radiesthesia which introduces in its publications waves and rays after 
they have been discovered by "official" science. There is thus every reason 
for believing that alchemy is capable of making an important contribution 
to future knowledge and techniques based on the structure of matter. 

We have also noticed in the literature of the alchemists a great many texts 
that bear the stamp of madness. Attempts have been made to explain 
this dementia by psychoanalysis.* More often, since alchemy contains a 
metaphysical doctrine and presupposes a mystical attitude, historians, 
amateurs, and above all the devotees of occultism endeavor to interpret 
these unbalanced writings as being in the nature of supernatural revela- 

*[Keys to Spagyric Philosophy — Ed. ] 

tjung, Psychology and Alchemy, or Herbert Silberer, Problemes du Mysticisme (Problems 
of Mysticism). 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


83 


tions or inspired prophecy. After careful consideration, it seemed reason- 
able to classify these texts as the work of "madmen," placing them apart 
from the other technical and philosophical ones. It also seemed to us 
that there might be a practical, simple, and satisfactory explanation for 
the madness afflicting some of these practitioners and adepts. The alche- 
mists often used mercury in their experiments; its fumes are toxic, and 
chronic poisoning induces delirium. Theoretically, the receptacles they 
employed were hermetically sealed, but not every adept may have known 
the secret of this method of sealing, and in this way more than one of 
these "chemist-philosophers" may have succumbed to madness. 

Finally we were impressed by the codelike appearance of alchemist 
writings. Blaise Vigenere, mentioned above, invented the most perfect 
codes and the most ingenious methods of ciphering, some of which are 
still in use today. Now it is probable that Vigenere learned this art while 
trying to interpret the. alchemists' texts. 

Rene Alleau writes: 

To take a clearer example, consider the game of chess, whose rules 
and principles are relatively simple but permit of an infinite number 
of combinations. If we look on the whole body of acroamatic trea- 
tises on alchemy as so many games annotated in a conventional lan- 
guage, we shall have to confess in all honesty that we know neither 
the rules of the game nor the cypher employed. Alternatively, we 
assume that the code language is composed of signs that anyone can 
understand, which is precisely the immediate illusion that a well- 
composed cryptogram should create. We therefore conclude that it 
would be prudenr nor to allow ourselves to believe that their mean- 
ing is clear, bur to study these texts as if they were in an unknown 
language. Apparently these messages are addressed only to other 
players, other alchemists who, we must assume, already possess, by 
some other means than written tradition, the necessary key to an 
exact comprehension of this language.* 


"Aspects de Ulchimie Traditionelle (Aspects of Traditional Alchemy), Ed. de Minuit, 
Paris. 



84 


PART ONE 


Alchemist manuscripts have been found dating from the very earliest 
times, Nicolas de Valois in the fifteenth century deduced from this that 
transmutations and the secret techniques of the liberation of energy were 
known to men before the invention of writing. Architecture preceded writ- 
ing, and was perhaps a form of writing. And, in fact, there is a very close 
connection between alchemy and architecture. One of the most significant 
alchemist texts, by Esprit Gobineau de Montluisant, is entitled: Explications 
tres curieuses des enigmes et figures hieroglyphiques qui sont au grand portail 
de Notre-Dame de Paris. (Most curious explanations of the hieroglyphic 
enigmas and figures on the great west door ofNotre-Dame in Paris.) 

The works of Fulcanelli include, notably, Le Mystere des Cathedrales 
and detailed descriptions of Les Demeures Philosophales. Certain medieval 
buildings are believed to be examples of the age-old custom of transmit- 
ting through architecture the message of alchemy dating back to the most 
remote antiquity. 

Newton believed in the existence of a chain of Initiates going back to 
very early times who knew the secrets of transmutations and the disinte- 
gration of matter. The English atomic scientist. Da Costa Andrade, in a 
speech delivered at the Newton Tercentenary Celebrations at Cambridge 
in July 1946, made it clear that he thought the discoverer of the laws of 
gravitation perhaps belonged to this chain and had only revealed to the 
world a small part of his knowledge: 

I cannot hope to convince the skeptical that Newton had some 
power of prophecy or special vision, had some inkling of atomic 
power; but I do say that certain passages do not read to me as if 
all he meant was that the manufacture of gold would upset world 
trade — "Because the way by which mercury may be so impregnated 
has been thought fit to be concealed by others that have known it, 
and therefore may possibly be an inlet to something more noble, not 
to be communicated without immense danger to the world, if there 
should be any verity in the Hermetic writings" — and a little further 
on — "there being other things beside the transmutation of metals (if 
those great pretenders brag not) which none but they understand." In 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


85 


pondering what these passages may import, consider the no greater 
reticence with which he speaks of his optical discoveries. . . . 

To what past age did these great Masters invoked by Newton belong, 
and from what remote past did they themselves derive their science? 

"If I have seen further," said Newton, "it is by standing on the shoul- 
ders of giants." 

Atterbury, who was a contemporary of Newton's, wrote as follows: 

Modesty teaches us to speak of the Ancients with respect, especially 
when we are not very familiar with their works. Newton, who knew 
them practically by heart, had the greatest respect for them, and con- 
sidered them to be men of genius and superior intelligence who had 
carried their discoveries in every field much further than we today 
suspect, judging from what remains of their writings. More ancient 
writings have been lost than have been preserved, and perhaps our 
new discoveries are of less value than those that we have lost. 

Fulcanelli believed that alchemy was the connecting link with civili- 
zations that disappeared thousands of years ago and of which the archae- 
ologists know nothing. Of course no archaeologist or historian of high 
repute will admit that civilizations have existed in the past more advanced 
than ours in science and techniques. But advanced techniques and scien- 
tific knowledge simplify enormously the machinery, and traces of what 
they accomplished are perhaps staring us in the face without our being 
able to recognize them for what they are. No serious historian or archae- 
ologist who has not had a very thorough scientific education could carry 
out the researches and explorations that would be likely to throw any light 
on these matters. The strict segregation of the various disciplines, neces- 
sitated by the fabulous advances in modern science, has perhaps concealed 
from us other fabulous discoveries of an earlier age. 

We know that it was a German engineer, engaged to build sewers for 
the city of Baghdad, who discovered among some bric-a-brac in the local 
museum, labeled vaguely "ritual objects," electric batteries — manufactured 



86 


PART ONE 


ten centuries before Volta under the Sassanid Dynasty. So long as archae- 
ology is only practiced by archaeologists, we shall never know if the "mists 
of antiquity" were luminous or obscure. 

Johann-Friedrich Schweirzer, alias Helvetius, a violent antialchemist, 
relates that on the morning of December 27, 1666, he was visited by 
a stranger. Fie was a man of honest and serious appearance, dressed 
in a simple cloak, like a Mennonite. After asking Helverius whether 
he believed in rhe philosopher's stone (to which the famous doctor 
replied in the negative) the stranger opened a little ivory box "con- 
taining three pieces of a substance resembling glass or opal." He then 
declared that this was the famous stone, and that this very small 
amount was sufficient to produce twenty tons of gold. Helvetius held 
a fragment in his hand and, having thanked his visitor for his kind- 
ness, begged him to let him have a small piece. The alchemist bluntly 
refused, adding rather more courteously, that even in exchange for 
Helvetius's entire fortune he could not part with even the smallest 
piece of this mineral for a reason he was not permitted to disclose. 
When asked to prove his statement by performing a Transmutation, 
the stranger replied that he would come back in three weeks' time 
and would show Helvetius something that would astonish him. He 
returned punctually on the day specified, but refused to operate, 
declaring that he was forbidden to reveal his secret. He did, however, 
condescend to present Helvetius with a small fragment of the stone 
"no larger than a mustard seed." And when the doctor expressed 
doubts as ro whether so minute a quantity could produce any effect 
whatever the alchemist broke the morsel in rwo, threw away half, 
and offered him the other half saying: "This is all you need." 

At this the learned doctor was obliged to confess that when the 
stranger first visited him he had succeeded in appropriating a few 
particles of the stone and that they had changed some lead, not into 
gold, but into glass. "You ought to have covered your fragment with 
some yellow wax," replied the alchemist, "that would have helped it 
to penetrate the lead and transform it into gold." The man promised 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 87 


to return the next morning at nine o'clock to perform the miracle — 
but he never came, either that day or the next. Thereupon the wife 
ofHelvetius persuaded him to try the experiment himself: 

Helvetius followed the stranger's instructions. He melted down 
three drachmas oflead, wrapped the stone in wax and threw it into 
the liquid metal. It turned to gold! "We took it immediately to a 
goldsmith who declared that he had never seen a finer piece of gold, 
and offered us fifty florins for an ounce." Helvetius, concluding his 
report, informed us that he still possessed the ingot of gold, a tangi- 
ble proof of the transmutation. "May the Holy Angels of God watch 
over him (the alchemist) as a source of blessings for Christianity. 

Such is our constant prayer, for him and for us." 

The news traveled like lightning. Spinoza, who can hardly be con- 
sidered as simple-minded, wished to verify the story in every detail. 

He went to see the. goldsmith who had examined the gold, and the 
account he gave was more than favorable: during the fusion some silver 
present in the mixture was also transformed into gold. The goldsmith, 
named Brechtel, was employed by the Due d'Orange as his minter, and 
certainly knew his trade. It seems difficult to believe that he had been 
the victim of a hoax, or that he had wished to deceive Spinoza. The 
latter then went to Helvetius who showed him the gold, and the cru- 
cible used in the experiment. Some scraps of the precious metal were 
still adhering to the inside of the receptacle; like the others, Spinoza 
was convinced that the transmutation really had taken place.* 

Transmutation, for the alchemist, is a secondary phenomenon, performed 
merely as a demonstration. It is difficult to form an opinion as to the 
reality of these transmutations, although various reports, such as those of 
Helvetius or van Helmont, for example, are very impressive. It could be 
argued that the conjurer's art knows no limitations, but is it likely that 
4,000 years of research and 100,000 volumes and manuscripts would have 
been devoted to an imposture? We have another suggestion to make, as 

*Le Miroir de la Magie, by Kurt Seligmann. 



88 


PART ONE 


will be seen presently. We make it in all diffidence, because the weight 
of established scientific opinion is formidable. We shall try to describe 
the work of the alchemist culminating in the fabrication of the "stone," 
or "projection powder,” and we shall see that the interpretation of cer- 
tain operations conflicts with our present knowledge of the structure 
of matter. But there is nothing to show that our knowledge of nuclear 
phenomena is complete or definitive. Catalysis, for example, may play an 
altogether unexpected part in these phenomena.* 

It is not impossible that certain natural mixtures produce, under the 
influence of cosmic rays, nucleocatalytic reactions on a large scale result- 
ing in a massive transmutation of elements. This may well provide a key to 
the mystery of alchemy and explain why the alchemist repeats his experi- 
ments indefinitely, until the right cosmic conditions are obtained. 

To this it will be objected: if transmutations of this kind are possible, 
what becomes of the energy liberated? If all this were true, the alchemists 
must often have destroyed the towns they lived in and vast areas of their 
homeland as well, thus causing appalling catastrophes. 

To which the alchemists reply: it is precisely because such catastrophes 
have occurred in the distant past that we are afraid of the terrible energy 
contained in matter and therefore keep our science secret. Moreover, the 
Great Work is only attained through progressive phases, and whoever 
after scores of years of experimenting and living an austere life learns how 
to unleash the forces of nuclear energy, learns also what precautions to 
take to prevent a catastrophe. 

Is this argument valid? Perhaps. Physicists today admit that, in cer- 
tain conditions, the energy of a nuclear transmutation might be absorbed 
by special particles they call neutrinos, or antineutrinos. It would appear 
that some proofs of the existence of the neutrino have been forthcom- 
ing. There are, perhaps, certain types of transmutation which liberate 
only a small amount of energy, or in which energy is liberated in the 
form of neutrinos. We shall return to this question later. 


’Scientists in several countries are now working on the use of particles (produced by 
powerful accelerators) as catalyzing agents in the fusion of hydrogen. 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


89 


M. Eugene Canseliet, a disciple of Fulcanelli and one of the leading 
specialists on alchemy, was greatly struck by a passage in a study which 
Jacques Bergier had written as a preface to one of the classics in the 
Bibliotheque Mondiale (World-Wide Library), an anthology of sixteenth- 
century poetry. In this preface Bergier alluded to the alchemists and their 
cult of secrecy. This is what he wrote: "On this particular point it is dif- 
ficult not to agree with them. If there is a recipe for producing hydrogen 
bombs on a kitchen stove, it is clearly preferable that this recipe should 
not be disclosed." 

M. Eugene Canseliet's comment on this was as follows: "Above all, 
it is most important that this remark should not be dismissed as a mere 
pleasantry. You are quite right, and I am in a position to state that it is 
possible to produce an atomic fission by means of an ore, which is rela- 
tively common and cheap, and that this can be done with no other appa- 
ratus than a good stove, a coal-fusing oven, some Meker burners and four 
bottles of butane gas." 

It is, in fact, conceivable that even in nuclear physics important results 
can be obtained by simple means. This is the direction in which all sci- 
ence and technology are moving today. 

"We can do more than we know," said Roger Bacon. He added, how- 
ever, a remark that might well be an alchemist's saying: "Though every- 
thing is not permitted, everything is possible.” 

For the alchemist, it must never be forgotten that power over matter 
and energy is only a secondary reality. The real aim of the alchemist's 
activities, which are perhaps the remains of a very old science belonging 
to a civilization long extinct, is the transformation of the alchemist him- 
self, his accession to a higher state of consciousness. The material results 
are only a pledge of the final result, which is spiritual. Everything is ori- 
ented toward the transmutation of man himself, toward his deification, 
his fusion with the divine energy, the fixed center from which all material 
energies emanate. The alchemist's is that science "with a conscience" of 
which Rabelais speaks. It is a science that tends to exalt man rather than 
matter; as Teilhard de Chardin puts it: "The real aim ofphysics should be 
to integrate Man as a totality in a coherent representation of the world." 



90 PART ONE 


"Know, O all ye investigators of this Art," wrote a master alchemist,* 
"that the Spirit is all, and that unless within this Spirit another like Spirit 
is enclosed, no good will come of anything." 


In which a little lew is seen to prefer honey to sugar — In which an alchemist 
who might be the mysterious Fulcanelli speaks of the atomic danger in t A j, 
describes the atomic pile and evokes civilizations now extinct — In which 
Bergier breaks a safe with a blow-lamp and carries off a bottle of uranium 
under his arm — In which a nameless American major seeks a Fulcanelli 
now definitely vanished — In which Oppenheimer echoes a Chinese sage 
of a thousand years ago 

It was in 1933. The little Jewish student had a pointed nose and wore 
round spectacles through which shone a pair of cold and lively eyes. His 
round skull was covered with a thin down of hair. A frightful accent, 
which was not improved by a stutter, made his speech sound comically 
like the confused splashing of ducks in a pond. When one got to know 
him better one had the impression that a hungry, alert, sensitive, and 
incredibly quick intelligence was dancing inside this uncouth little man, 
full of mischief and as lacking as a child in any kind of savoir vivre, like a 
big, red balloon at the end of a string. 

"So you want to be an alchemist?" said the venerable old Professor to 
the student, Jacques Bergier, who sat, hanging his head, on the edge of his 
chair, with a briefcase stuffed with papers on his knee. The old Professor 
was one of France's most distinguished chemists. "I don't understand you, 
sir," said the student, feeling nettled. He had a prodigious memory, and 
remembered having seen, at the age of six, a German print depicting two 
alchemists at work amidst a confusion of test tubes, pliers, crucibles, and 
bellows. One of them, in rags, was tending the ore, open-mouthed, while 

*La Tourbe des Philosopbes (The Peat of Philosophers), in Bibliotheque des Pbilosophes 
Cbimiques (Library of Chemical Philosophers), 1741. 



THE EXAMPLE OE ALCHEMY 


the other, with his beard and hair awry, was scratching his head and stag- 
gering about in a corner of the workshop. 

The Professor consulted his files: "During the last two years of your 
studies I see that you took a special interest in M. Jean Thibaud's free 
course of lectures on nuclear physics. This course does not lead to any 
diploma or certificate, yet you persist in your desire to continue with these 
studies. Had you been a physicist I could have understood your curiosity. 
But your subject is chemistry. Are you expecting, by any chance, to learn 
how to manufacture gold?" 

"Sir," replied the little student raising his hands, "I believe in the 
future of nuclear chemistry. I believe that transmutations will be used in 
industry in the near future." 

"That seems quite crazy to me." 

"But sir ... " 

Sometimes he stopped at the beginning of a sentence and then went 
on repeating his opening words like a gramophone that has got stuck, 
not because he had nothing to say, but because his thoughts were turning 
to the forbidden realms of poetry. He knew by heart many thousands of 
lines, and all the poems of Kipling. 

"But, sir, even if you do not believe in transmutations, you must 
surely believe in nuclear energy. The immense potential resources of the 
nucleus . . 

"Tut. tut," said the Professor. "That's childish and elementary. What 
the physicists call nuclear energy is an integration constant in their equa- 
tions. It's a philosophical idea, nothing more. Consciousness is man's chief 
motive power. But it's not consciousness that drives a locomotive. So all 

this talk about machines being powered by nuclear energy No, no, my 

boy . . ." 

The young man swallowed hard. 

"Come back to earth and think ofyour future. What you are obsessed 
by at the moment, because to me you seem scarcely more than a child, is 
one of man's oldest dreams — the alchemist's dream. Read Berthelot again. 
He has given a very good account of this myth of the transmutation of 
matter. Your studies here have not been particularly brilliant. Let me give 



92 


PART ONE 


you some advice: get yourself a job in industry as soon as possible. What 
about sugar? Three months in a sugar factory will bring you back to reali- 
ties, and that's what you need. I'm speaking to you now as a father." 

The unworthy son stammered his thanks and departed, nose in air 
and hugging his bulging briefcase. He was an obstinate type; he felt he 
ought to profit from this conversation, but that honey was better than 
sugar. He would go on studying nuclear problems — and read everything 
he could about alchemy. 

And this is how my friend Jacques Bergier decided to continue with stud- 
ies that had been dismissed as useless, and which others described as mad. 
The vicissitudes of life, the war, and concentration camps kept him away 
for a time from nuclear studies, yet he was able to make some contribu- 
tions that were highly thought of by the specialists. In the course of his 
researches the dreams of the alchemists and the realities of mathemati- 
cal physics coincided more than once. But great changes have taken place 
in the world of science since 1933, and my friend had less and less the 
impression that he was plowing a lonely furrow. 

From 1934 to 1940 Jacques Bergier worked with Andre Helbronner, one 
of the most remarkable men of our time. Helbronner, who was assas- 
sinated by the Nazis at Buchenwald in March 1944, had been the first 
Professor at the Faculty to teach physical chemistry. This science, midway 
between two disciplines, has since given rise to many other sciences: elec- 
tronic, nuclear, and "stereotronic."* 

Helbronner had been awarded the gold medal of the Franklin Institute 
for his discoveries on colloidal metals. He was also interested in the liq- 
uefaction of gases, aeronautics, and ultraviolet rays. In 1934 he devoted 
himself to the study of nuclear physics and created, with a group of indus- 
trialists, a nuclear research laboratory where, until 1940, some very inter- 
esting results were obtained. Helbronner was, in addition, often called 
upon to advise the judiciary as an expert in all matters pertaining to the 

"This is an entirely new science concerned with the transformation of energy in solids. 
One of its applied forms is the transistor. 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


93 


transmutation of elements; and it was in this way that Jacques Bergier 
had an opportunity of meeting a certain number of pseudo-alchemists, 
impostors, or visionaries, and one genuine alchemist of real distinction. 

My friend never knew this alchemist's real name and, even if he had, 
would have been careful not to disclose his identity. The man of whom we 
are speaking disappeared some time ago without leaving any visible traces, 
to lead a clandestine existence, having severed all connection between 
himself and the century in which he lived. Bergier can only guess that he 
may have been the man who. under the pseudonym of Fulcanelli, wrote 
about the year 1920, two strange and admirable books: Les Demeures 
Philosophales and Le Mystere des Catkedrales, already referred to. These 
books were published through the good offices of M. Eugene Canseliet, 
who never revealed the author's name.* They are certainly among the most 
important works in the literature of alchemy. They are an expression of 
the most profound knowledge and wisdom, and several great men of our 
acquaintance profess the greatest veneration for the legendary name of 
Fulcanelli. 

M. Canseliet writes. 

Could he, having attained to the summit of all knowledge, refuse 
to obey the command of Destiny? No man is a prophet in his own 
country. This old saying perhaps provides an occult explanation 
of the upheaval in the solitary and studious life of the philosopher 
caused by the spark of revelation. Under the action of this divine 
flame, the man as he used to be is entirely consumed. Name, family, 
country, all illusions, all mistakes, all trivialities crumble into dust. 

And from these ashes, like the Phoenix of the poets, a new personal- 
ity is born. This, at least, is what philosophical tradition would have 
us believe. My master knew it. He disappeared when the fateful hour 
struck and the sign was accomplished. Who would dare to defy the 
law? If the same thing that compelled my master to shun all worldly 


"These two books have been reissued by Omnium Litteraire, 72 Avenue des Champs- 
Elysees, Paris. The first edition is dated 1925 and had long been out of print, the rare 
copies still in circulation being snapped up by collectors at a very high price. 



94 


PART ONE 


acclaim should happen to me today, despite the anguish of a painful 
but inevitable separation I should act in exactly the same way. 

M. Eugene Canseliet wrote those lines in 1925. The man who had 
entrusted him with the publication of his works was about to change his 
habits and way of life. One afternoon, in June 1937, Jacques Bergier thought 
there was good reason to believe that he was in the presence of Fulcanelli. 

It was at the request of Andre Helbronner that my friend met this 
mysterious personage in the prosaic surroundings of a test laboratory at 
the offices of the Gas Board in Paris. The following is an exact account of 
the conversation that then took place: 

"M. Andre Helbronner, whose assistant I believe you are, is carrying 
out research on nuclear energy. M. Helbronner has been good enough to 
keep me informed as to the results of some of his experiments, notably the 
appearance of radioactivity corresponding to plutonium when a bismuth 
rod is volatilized by an electric discharge in deuterium at high pressure. 
You are on the brink of success, as indeed are several other of our scien- 
tists today. May I be allowed to warn you to be careful? The research in 
which you and your colleagues are engaged is fraught with terrible dan- 
gers, not only for yourselves, but for the whole human race. The liberation 
of atomic energy is easier than you think, and the radioactivity artificially 
produced can poison the atmosphere of our planet in the space of a few 
years. Moreover, atomic explosives can be produced from a few grams of 
metal powerful enough to destroy whole cities. I am telling you this as a 
fact: the alchemists have known it for a very long time." 

Bergier tried to interrupt with a protest. Alchemists and modern 
physics! He was about to make some sarcastic remark, when his host 
interrupted him: 

"I know what you are going to say, but it's of no interest. The alche- 
mists were ignorant of the structure of the nucleus, knew nothing about 
electricity, and had no means of detection. Therefore they have never 
been able to perform any transmutation, still less, liberate nuclear energy. 
I shall not attempt to prove to you what I am now going to say, but I ask 
you to repeat it to M. Helbronner: certain geometrical arrangements of 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


95 


highly purified materials are enough to release atomic forces without hav- 
ing recourse to either electricity or vacuum techniques. I will merely read 
to you now a short extract. 

He then picked up Frederick Soddy's The Interpretation ofRadium 
and read as follows: "I believe that there have been civilizations in the past 
that were familiar with atomic energy, and that by misusing it they were 
totally destroyed." 

He then continued: "I would ask you to believe that certain tech- 
niques have partially survived. I would also ask you to remember that the 
alchemists' researches were colored by moral and religious preoccupations, 
whereas modern physics was created in the eighteenth century for their 
amusement by a few aristocrats and wealthy libertines. Science without a 
conscience. ... I have thought it my duty to warn a few research workers 
here and there, but have no hope of seeing this warning prove effective. 
For that matter, there, is no reason why I should have any hope." 

Bergier has never been able to forget the sound of that precise incisive 
voice, speaking with such authority. 

He ventured to put another question: "If you are an alchemist yourself, 
sir, I cannot believe you spend your time fabricating gold like Duriikovski 
or Dr. Miethe. For the last year I have been trying to get information- 
about alchemy, and find myself surrounded by imposters or hearing what 
seems to be fantastic interpretations. Now can you, sir, tell me what is the 
nature of your researches?" 

"You ask me to summarize for you in four minutes four thousand 
years of philosophy and the efforts of a lifetime. Furthermore, you 
ask me to translate into ordinary language concepts for which such a 
language is not intended. All the same, I can tell you this much: you 
are aware that in the official science of today the role of the observer 
becomes more and more important. Relativity, the principle of inde- 
terminacy, shows the extent to which the observer today intervenes in 
all these phenomena. The secret of alchemy is this: there is a way of 
manipulating matter and energy so as to produce what modern scien- 
tists call 'a field of force.' This field acts on the observer and puts him 
in a privileged position vis-a-vis the Universe. From this position he has 



96 


PART ONE 


access to the realities, which are ordinarily hidden from us by time and 
space, matter and energy. This is what we call 'The Great Work."' 

"But what about the philosopher's stone? The fabrication of gold?" 

"These are only applications, particular cases. The essential thing is 
not the transmutation of metals, but that of the experimenter himself. It's 
an ancient secret that a few men rediscover, once in a century." 

"And what becomes of them then?" 

"I shall know, perhaps, one day." 

My friend was never to see this man again — the man who under the 
name of Fulcanelli has left an indelible trace. All that we know of him is 
that he survived the war and disappeared completely after the Liberation. 
Every attempt to find him failed.* 

Now the scene changes to aJuly morning in 1945. Still pale and famished- 
looking, Jacques Bergier, clad in khaki, is engaged in breaking into a safe 
with a blow lamp. Yet another transformation. For the past few years he has 
been in succession a secret agent, a terrorist, and a political deportee. The 
safe in question stood in a beautiful villa on Lake Constance, the property 
of the director of a great German business concern. When opened, the safe 
yielded up its mystery: a bottle containing an extremely heavy powder. The 
label was inscribed: "Uranium, for atomic applications." 

It was the first formal proof of the existence in Germany of a project 
for an atomic bomb sufficiently advanced to require large quantities of 
pure uranium. Goebbels was not far wrong when, from his bunker under 
bombardment, he spread through the streets of a devastated Berlin the 
rumor that the secret weapon was about to explode in the face of the 
invaders. 

Bergier reported his discovery to the Allied authorities. The Americans 
were skeptical and gave out that any inquiry into nuclear energy would 

*"The opinion of those who are best qualified to judge is that the man who concealed 
himself, or is still today hiding behind the famous pseudonym of Fulcanelli, is the most 
celebrated and without doubt the only genuine (and perhaps the last) alchemist of this 
century in which the atom is king." Claude d'Yge, in the review Initiation et Science, No. 
44, Paris. 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


97 


be pointless. It was a feint: in reality their first bomb had already been 
exploded secretly at Alamogordo, and an American mission headed by 
the physicist Goudsmith, was at that moment in Germany looking for the 
atomic pile that Professor Heisenberg had constructed before the collapse 
of the Reich. 

In France, nothing was known officially, but there were signs, of 
which the most significant, in the eyes of those able to read between the 
lines, was the fact that the Americans were paying fabulous prices for any 
manuscripts or documents dealing with alchemy. 

Bergier reported to the provisional government that research on 
nuclear explosives was probably being carried on in Germany, as well as in 
the United States. The report was no doubt consigned to the wastepaper 
basket, but my friend still kept his bottle, which he used to show to all 
and sundry, saying: "You see that? You need only put a neutron inside 
to blow up the whole, of Paris!" This little man with the comic accent 
was certainly a joker, and people were amazed that anyone who had just 
come back from Mauthausen had managed to keep a sense of humor. But 
the joke did not seem quite so funny after Hiroshima. The telephone in 
Bergier's room began to ring incessantly, and all sorts of official bodies 
asked for copies of the report. The American intelligence services begged 
the owner of the famous bottle to contact urgently a certain Major who 
refused to give his name. Other authorities insisted that the bottle should 
be removed to some place outside the Paris area. In vain Bergier explained 
that the flask certainly did not contain pure uranium 235, and that, even 
if it did, the uranium was certainly not "critical.” Otherwise, it would 
have exploded long ago. However, his toy was taken from him, and he 
never heard it referred to again. To console him, he was presented with a 
report from the "Direction Generale des Etudes et Recherches," contain- 
ing all that this organization, a branch of the French Secret Service, knew 
about nuclear energy. The report was labeled: "Secret," "Confidential," 
and "Not to be circulated," but all it contained were some clippings from 
the magazine Science et Vie (Science and Life). 

To satisfy his curiosity it only remained for him to meet the famous 
anonymous Major, some of whose adventures had been related by Professor 



98 


PART ONE 


Goudsmith in his book Alsos. This mysterious officer, endowed with a 
macabre sense of humor, had camouflaged his unit under the guise of an 
organization for locating the graves of fallen American soldiers. He was 
in a state of agitation, and appeared to be harassed by Washington. He 
wanted first to know everything that Bergier had been able to learn or 
guess about German nuclear projects. But, above all, it was essential for 
the safety of the world, the Allied cause, and the promotion of the Major, 
to discover immediately the whereabouts of Eric Edward Dutt and the 
alchemist known as Fulcanelli. 

Dutt, whose antecedents had been looked into by Helbronner, was 
an Indian who claimed to have had access to some very ancient manu- 
scripts. He declared that he had learned from them certain methods for 
the transmutation of metals, and that he had, by means of a condenser 
discharge across a conductor of boride of tungsten, obtained traces of gold 
in the resulting deposit. Similar results were later to be obtained by the 
Russians, but this time by using powerful particle accelerators. 

Bergier was not able to be of much service to the free world, or to 
the Allied cause, or to the Major. Eric Edward Dutt, a collaborator, had 
been shot by the French counterespionage services in North Africa. As for 
Fulcanelli, he had definitely disappeared. 

Nevertheless, the Major, as a token of his gratitude, showed Bergier 
the proofs of Professor H. D. Smyth's report On the Military Uses of 
Atomic Energy before publication. This was the first serious document to 
deal with this question and tended surprisingly to confirm certain affir- 
mations made by the alchemist in 1937. 

The atomic pile, an essential instrument for the manufacture of the 
bomb, was actually "a geometrical arrangement of highly purified sub- 
stances." As Fulcanelli had stated, this instrument used neither electricity 
nor a vacuum technique. Smyth's report also alluded to radiant poisons 
and radioactive gases and dust, all highly toxic, which it was relatively 
easy to prepare in large quantities. The alchemist had spoken of the pos- 
sibility of poisoning the entire planet. 

How had it been possible for an obscure mystic, a solitary investigator 
to foresee or have knowledge of all these things? 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


99 


On looking through the proofs of the report my friend remembered 
this passage in Albert le Grand's De Alchima: "Should you have the mis- 
fortune of working for kings and princes, they will never cease asking you: 
'How is the Great Work progressing? When at last are we going to see 
something worth while?' And, in their impatience they will call you good- 
for-nothing and rascal, and make all sorts of trouble for you. And if you 
are unsuccessful, you will feel the full force of their displeasure. If, on the 
other hand, you succeed, they will keep you prisoner in perpetual captivity 
with the intention of making you work for their advantage." 

Was this why Fulcanelli had disappeared and why alchemists through- 
out the ages had always maintained secrecy about their work? 

The advice given first and last in the Harris papyrus was: "Keep your 
lips sealed!" 

Years after Hiroshima, on January 17, 1955, Oppenheimer made this 
statement: "In a very profound sense and in a way that cannot be lightly 
dismissed, we scientists have sinned." 

And a thousand years earlier a Chinese alchemist wrote: "It would be 
a terrible sin to reveal to the soldiers the secrets of your art. Beware! Do 
not allow even an insect to be in the room where you are working." 


1 V The modern alchemist and the spirit of research — Description of what an 

alchemist does in his laboratory — Experiments repeated indefinitely — 

What is he waitingfor? — The preparation of darkness — Electronic 
gas — Water that dissolves — Is the philosopher's stone energy in 
suspension ?-The transmutation of the alchemist himself — This is where 
true metaphysics begin 

The modern alchemist is a man who reads treatises on nuclear physics. He 
is convinced that transmutations and still more extraordinary phenom- 
ena can be obtained by manipulations and with the aid of comparatively 
simple apparatus. It is among contemporary alchemists that the spirit of 



lllll 


PART ONE 


the isolated seeker is to be found, and the preservation of such a spirit 
is very important at the present time. For it is generally believed today 
that no progress in science is possible without large-scale teamwork, vast 
apparatus, and considerable financial backing. And yet the fundamen- 
tal discoveries, such as radioactivity and wave mechanics, were made by 
men working in isolation. America, where everything is done on a big 
scale, with large teams of workers, is now sending its agents all over the 
world in search of original minds. The Director of American scientific 
research. Dr. James Killian, declared in 1958 that it was undesirable to 
trust entirely in collective research, and that an appeal should be made to 
solitary workers with original ideas of their own. Rutherford did some of 
his fundamental work on the structure of matter with old tins and bits of 
string. Jean Perrin and Mme. Curie, before the war. sent their assistants 
to the Flea Market on Sundays to look for material. Of course big, well- 
equipped laboratories are necessary, but it would be advisable to ensure 
some cooperation between these laboratories and these teams and these 
solitary workers. The alchemists, however, would refuse the invitation. 
Their rule is secrecy; their ambition of a spiritual nature. "There can be 
no doubt," wrote Rene Alleau, "that the manipulations of the alchemists 
help to maintain an inner asceticism." If alchemy contains some science, 
this science is only a means of gaining access to knowledge. It is conse- 
quently most important that it should not be generally known, otherwise 
it would become an end in itself. 


What is the alchemist's working material? The same as that used for 
high-temperature mineral chemistry: furnaces, crucibles, scales, measur- 
ing instruments with, in addition, modern apparatus for detecting nuclear 
radiation — Geiger counters, scintillometers, etc. 

Such a stock-in-trade may seem hopelessly inadequate. An orthodox 
physicist would never admit that it is possible to produce a cathode emit- 
ting neutrons with such simple and inexpensive apparatus. If our infor- 
mation is correct, alchemists do in fact succeed in doing this. In the 
days when the electron was considered to be the fourth state of matter, 
extremely elaborate and costly machinery was invented to produce elec- 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


1111 


tronic currents. Later on, in 1910, Elster and Gaitel showed that it was 
enough to heat lime in vacuo to a dull red heat. 

We do not know all the laws of matter. If alchemy is a more advanced 
form of knowledge than our own science, it employs simpler methods. 

We know several alchemists in France, and two in the United States. 
There are some in England, in Germany, and in Italy. E. J. Holmyard says 
he met one in Morocco. Three have written to us from Prague. The scien- 
tific press in the U.S.S.R. appears to be taking a great interest in alchemy, 
and is undertaking historical researches. 

We are now going to give, for what we believe to be the first time, an 
accurate description of what an alchemist actually does in his laboratory. 
We do not claim to reveal every detail of the methods employed, but we 
believe we can throw some light upon these methods, which will not be 
without interest. Nor do we forget that alchemy's ultimate aim is the 
transmutation of the alchemist himself, and that his operations are only 
steps in his slow progress toward "spiritual liberation." We are now going 
to try to give some fresh information about these operations. 

The alchemist in the first place spends many years deciphering old 
texts, which to the reader, deprived of any guiding Ariadne's thread, are 
like a labyrinth where everything has been done deliberately and system- 
atically to throw the uninitiated into a state of inextricable mental confu- 
sion. With the help of patience, humility, and faith he gradually begins 
to understand these texts. Having got so far, he is ready to begin actual 
alchemic operations. These we are going to describe, but there is one thing 
of which we have no knowledge. We know what happens in an alchemist's 
laboratory, but we do not know what happens in the alchemist himself, 
in his mind and heart. It may be that everything is connected. It may 
be that spiritual energy plays a part in the physical and chemical opera- 
tions of the alchemist. It may be that a certain method of acquiring, 
concentrating, and directing this spiritual energy is essential to the suc- 
cess of the alchemists' work. This is not certain, but in this rare context 
it is impossible not to recall Dante's saying: "I see that you believe these 
things because I tell you them; but you do not know the reason for them. 



102 


PART ONE 


and therefore, in spite of being believed, their meaning is still hidden." 

Our alchemist begins by preparing in a mortar made of agate a mix- 
ture of three ingredients. The first, in a proportion of 95 percent, is some 
sort of ore: arsenopyrites, for example, an iron ore containing among its 
impurities arsenic and antimony. The second is a metal: iron, lead, sil- 
ver, or mercury. The third is an acid of organic origin, such as tartaric or 
citric acid. He will continue to grind and mix by hand these ingredients 
for five or six months. He will then proceed to heat the mixture in a cru- 
cible, increasing the temperature by degrees and continuing this operation 
for ten days or so. He must take precautions, for toxic gases are released: 
mercury vapor and especially arsenohydrogen, which has killed many an 
alchemist at the beginning of his experiment. 

Finally, he dissolves the contents of the crucible by means of an acid, 
and it was in their search for a solvent that the old alchemists discovered 
acetic acid, nitric acid, and sulfuric acid. 

The dissolution has to be performed under a polarized light, i.e., 
either weak sunlight reflected in a mirror, or the light of the moon. It is 
known today that polarized light vibrates in one direction only, whereas 
ordinary light vibrates in every direction around an axis. 

Next the liquid is evaporated and the solid residue recalcined. The 
alchemist will repeat this operation thousands of times. Why? We do not 
know. Perhaps he is waiting for the moment when all the most favorable 
conditions will be fulfilled: cosmic rays, terrestrial magnetism, etc. Perhaps 
it is in order to obtain a condition of "fatigue" in the structure of matter of 
which we still know nothing. The alchemist speaks of a "sacred patience" 
and of the slow condensation of the "universal spirit.” But behind this para- 
religious language there is surely something hidden. 

This method of working by repeating indefinitely the same operation 
may seem mad to a modern chemist who has been taught that there is 
only one satisfactory experimental method — that of Claude Berthelot. 
This method is based on concomitant variations. The same experiment is 
carried out thousands of times, but with one different factor every time: 
the proportions of one of the ingredients, temperature, pressure, a differ- 
ent catalyzer, etc. The results obtained are noted, and some of the laws 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


103 


governing the phenomenon deduced therefrom. This is a method that. has 
proved sound, but it is not the only one. The alchemist repeats his opera- 
tion without any variation until something extraordinary happens. He 
believes fundamentally in a natural law, somewhat similar to the "prin- 
ciple of exclusion" formulated by the physicist Pauli, a friend of Jung. 

Pauli held that in a given system (the atom and its molecules) there 
cannot be two particles (electrons, protons, mesons) in the same state. 
Everything in nature is unique. That is why one goes, without any inter- 
mediary, from hydrogen to helium, from helium to lithium and so on as 
the nuclear physicist is advised in the periodic table of elements. When a 
particle is added to a system, that particle cannot partake of any of the 
states existing within the system. It assumes another state, and its combi- 
nation with the existing particles creates a new and unique system. 

For the alchemist, just as there can be no two souls, or no two crea- 
tures, or no two plants exactly alike (Pauli would add: no two electrons), 
so there can be no two experiments exactly the same. If an experiment 
is repeated thousands of times, something extraordinary will happen in 
the end. We are not competent to say whether the alchemists are right or 
wrong. We will merely point out that one modern science — the science of 
cosmic rays — has adopted a very similar method. This science studies the 
phenomena caused by the arrival, in a machine designed for their direc- 
tion, or on a plaque, of particles of enormous energy coming from the 
stars. These phenomena cannot be obtained at will; they must be waited 
for. Sometimes an extraordinary phenomenon is recorded. Thus, for 
example, during the summer of 1957, in the course of some experiments 
being carried out in the United States by Professor Bruno Rossi, a particle 
charged with an immense amount of energy — greater than had ever been 
recorded, and coming perhaps from some galaxy other than the Milky 
Way — was recorded on fifteen hundred Geiger counters simultaneously 
in a radius of eight square kilometers, creating in its track an enormous 
shower of atomic debris. It is impossible to imagine a machine capable 
of producing so much energy. Such a thing had never happened before 
in living memory, and no one knows if it will ever happen again. It is 
an exceptional event of this kind, whether cosmic or terrestrial, that our 



104 


PART ONE 


alchemist is apparently waiting for, to see reflected in his crucible. He 
might perhaps shorten the period of waiting by using more active means 
than fire — for example, by heating his crucible in an induction furnace 
by levitation.* Or, again, by adding radioactive isotypes to the mixture. In 
this way, he could perform his operation over and over again, not several 
times a week, but several hundreds of thousands of times in a second, thus 
multiplying his chances of capturing the "event" necessary for the success 
ofhis experiment. But the modern alchemist, like his predecessors, works 
in secrecy and poverty, and looks upon waiting as a virtue. 

To continue our description: after working at the same thing, night and 
day, for several years, our alchemist finally decides that the first phase is 
completed. He then adds to his mixture an oxidizing agent, for example, 
potassium nitrate. His crucible already contains sulfur obtained from pyrites 
and carbon from the organic acid. Sulfur, carbon, and nitrate: it was in per- 
forming this operation that the old alchemists discovered gunpowder. 

Over and over again he continues this operation of dissolving and 
then reheating for months and years without respite, always waiting for a 
sign. As to the nature of this sign, the books on alchemy differ, but this is 
perhaps because there are several phenomena that might occur. The sign 
appears at the moment of melting. For some alchemists it will appear in 
the form of crystals shaped like stars on the surface of the solution, while 
in other cases a layer of oxide forms on the surface and then breaks up. 
revealing the luminous metal in which can be seen a reflection, in minia- 
ture, of the Milky Way, perhaps, or some of the constellations. (In this case 
melting would be done by a high-frequency current. 1 ) 

On receiving this sign, the alchemist removes his mixture from the 
crucible and allows it to "ripen," protected from the air and from damp, 
until the first days of spring. When he resumes his operations, these will 
be directed toward what is called in the old texts, "the preparation of 
darkness." Recent research on the history of chemistry has shown that the 

"This method consists of suspending the mixture in a void, so as to have no contact with 
the furnace wall, by means of a magnetic field. 

tThe American magazine Life, January 1958, published some excellent photographs of 
an operation of this kind. Jacques Bergier says he has witnessed this experiment. 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


105 


German monk, Berthold Schwarz (who is generally credited in the West 
with the invention of gunpowder) never existed. He is a symbolic figure 
for this "preparation of darkness." 

The mixture is now placed in a transparent receptacle, made of rock 
crystal and closed in a special way. Little is known about this method of 
sealing, generally known as the Hermes method, hence "hermetic." The 
procedure will now consist of heating the receptacle, regulating the tem- 
peratures with the utmost precision. Inside the closed receptacle there 
is still the same mixture of sulfur, carbon, and nitrates, which now has 
to be brought to a certain degree of incandescence but prevented from 
exploding. There are many instances of alchemists being seriously burned 
or killed, for the explosions that occur under these conditions are particu- 
larly violent and engender temperatures which logically would seem quite 
improbable. 

The object in view is to procure in the receptacle an "essence," a 
"fluid," which alchemists sometimes call "raven's wing." 

This calls for some explanation. This operation has no equivalent in 
modern physics and chemistry, and yet it is not without analogies. When 
a metal such as copper is dissolved in liquid ammoniac gas it turns a dark 
blue color, verging on black in massive concentrations. The same phenom- 
enon occurs if hydrogen under pressure, or organic amines, are dissolved 
in liquefied ammoniac gas to produce the unstable compound NH which 
has all the properties of an alkaline metal and is consequently known as 
"ammonium." 

There is reason to believe that this blue-black coloration, resembling 
the fluid the alchemists call "raven's wing," is the exact color of electronic" 
gas. What is electronic gas? It is the term applied by modern scientists to 
the whole body of free electrons, which constitute a metal and endow it 
with all its mechanical, electric, and thermal properties. It corresponds 
in present day terminology to what the alchemist calls the "soul" or the 
"essence" of metals. It is this soul or essence which is released in the her- 
metically sealed receptacle the alchemist has been so patiently tending 
over his furnace. 

He heats it, allows it to cool off, heats it again, and continues the 



106 


PART ONE 


process for months or even years, observing through the rock crystal the 
formation of what is also sometimes called "the alchemist's egg," i.e., the 
mixture converted into a blue-black fluid. Finally he opens his receptacle 
in the dark, lighted only by this kind of fluorescent liquid. On contact 
with the air. this liquid solidifies and breaks up. In this way he would 
obtain entirely new substances, unknown in nature and possessing all the 
properties of pure chemical elements — properties — that is to say, which 
cannot be separated by chemical means. 

Some modern alchemists claim to have obtained in this way new chem- 
ical elements in considerable quantities. Fulcanelli is said to have extracted 
from a kilogram of iron twenty grams of an entirely new substance whose 
chemical and physical properties do not correspond to any known chemi- 
cal element. The same operation could be applied to all elements, most of 
which would yield two new elements for each one treated. 

Such a statement is likely to shock an orthodox laboratory worker. For 
modern theory admits only the two following separations of a chemical 
element: the molecule of an element can assume several states, e.g., ortho- 
hydrogen and parahydrogen; or the nucleus of an element can assume a 
certain number of isotopic states in which the number of neutrons varies. 
Thus, in lithium 6, the nucleus contains three neutrons, and, in lithium 
7, the nucleus contains four. 

The techniques for separating the various allotropic states of the mol- 
ecule and the various isotopic states of the nucleus, necessitate the use of 
vast and elaborate machinery. By contrast, the alchemist's methods are 
altogether insignificant: yet he, it seems, would succeed not in altering the 
state of matter but in creating a new kind of matter; or, at any rate, in 
decomposing matter and recomposing it differently. All our knowledge of 
the atom and its nucleus is based on the "Saturnian" model ofNagasoka 
and Rutherford: the nucleus and its belt, or ring, of electrons. On the face 
of it, there seems to be no reason why. in the future, some other theory 
should not enable us to bring about separations and alterations in the state 
of chemical elements, which today seem inconceivable. 

So now our alchemist has opened his crystal receptacle, and obtained, 
through the cooling on contact with the air of the fluorescent liquid, one 



THE EXAMPLE OE ALCHEMY 


1 0 7 


or more new elements. Some dregs remain. These he will wash and rewash 
for several months with triple-distilled water. Then he will keep this water 
away from the light and from any variations in temperature. 

This water is said to have extraordinary chemical and medical prop- 
erties. It is the universal solvent, and the elixir of tradition that ensures 
longevity — the elixir of Faust.* 

Here, the alchemic tradition seems to be in harmony with advanced 
modern science, which takes the view that water is a strongly reactive and 
highly complex mixture. Researchers who have been studying the ques- 
tion of oligo-elements, notably Dr. Jacques Menetrier, have observed that 
all metals are, in fact, soluble in water in the presence of certain catalyz- 
ers such as glucose, and in certain temperatures. Moreover, water, they 
suggest, could form actual chemical compounds, hydrates for example, in 
combination with inert gases such as helium and argon. If it were known 
which constituent in water was responsible for the formation of hydrates 
in contact with an inert gas, it would be possible to stimulate the solvent 
properties of water and in this way to obtain a real universal solvent. 

The Russian review, Knowledge and Strength, a journal of high stand- 
ing, wrote in 1957 (No. 11) that this result would perhaps be achieved one 
day by bombarding water with nuclear radiations, and that the alchemist's 
universal solvent would become a reality before the end of the century. 
It also foresaw a number of possible applications, including a boring of a 
tunnel by means of a jet of activated water. 

Our alchemist, then, is now in possession of a certain number of sim- 
ple bodies unknown in Nature, and of a few flasks full of an alchemic 

'Professor Ralph Milne Farley, United States Senator and Professor of Modern Physics 
at the West Point Military Academy, has drawn attention to the fact that some biologists 
think that old age is due to the accumulation of heavy water in the organism. The alche- 
mists' elixir of life might then be a substance that eliminates selectively heavy water. Such 
substances exist in evaporated water. Why, then, should they not be found in a liquid 
water when treated in a certain way? But could so important a discovery be published 
without danger? Mr. Farley imagines a secret society of immortals, or quasi-immortals, 
who haVe existed for centuries and reproduce themselves by cooption. Such a society, 
keeping aloof from politics and the affairs of men, would have every chance of remaining 
undetected. . . . 



108 


PART ONE 


water capable of prolonging life to a considerable extent by rejuvenating 
the tissues. 

His next step is to try to recombine the simple elements he has 
obtained. He mixes them in his mortar, and melts them at low tempera- 
tures with the aid of catalyzers of which the texts tell us very little. The 
more one studies the operations of the alchemists, the more difficult to 
decipher do the texts become. This particular operation will take several 
years to perform. 

In this way, we are told, the alchemist will obtain substances exactly 
like the metals we know, especially those that are good conductors ofheat 
and electricity. These substances would be alchemic copper, alchemic sil- 
ver, and alchemic gold. Neither the classical texts nor spectroscopy are 
able to reveal the novelty of these substances, and yet they are supposed 
to have new and surprising properties, different from those of existing 
metals. 

If our information is correct, alchemic copper, which looks very like 
ordinary copper, yet is, in fact, very different, has an infinitely feeble resis- 
tance to electricity, comparable to that of the superconductors that the 
physicists obtain in the neighborhood of absolute zero. If such a copper 
could be used, it would revolutionize electrochemistry. 

Other substances obtained by the alchemist's manipulations are, it 
seems, still more remarkable. One of them is said to be soluble in glass, 
at low temperature and before the glass has reached melting point. This 
substance, on touching the half-melted glass, spreads all over it inside, 
turning it to a ruby red, and giving off a mauve fluorescence in the dark. 
The powder obtained by grinding the glass thus treated in a mortar of 
agate is what the alchemists call the "projection powder," or "philosopher's 
stone.” 

"And thus," wrote Bernard. Comte de la Marche Trevisane, "is 
brought about this precious Stone, excelling all other precious stones, an 
infinite treasure to the glory of God who lives and reigns forever." 

Everyone is familiar with the marvelous legends concerning this stone, 
or powder, which is said to be able to bring about the transmutation of 
metals in considerable quantities. It is reputed to be capable of transform- 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


I I) 9 

ing certain base metals into gold, silver, or platinum, but this is only one 
aspect of its powers. It might even be a sort of reservoir of nuclear energy, 
controllable to any degree. 

We shall return later to the questions raised by the manipulations 
of the alchemists to which an enlightened modern man must find an 
answer; for the moment let us halt where the alchemic texts themselves 
come to an end. The "Great Work" is done. The alchemist himself under- 
goes a transformation which the texts evoke, but which we are unable to 
describe, having only the vaguest analogies to guide us. This transforma- 
tion, it seems, would be, as it were, a promise, or foretaste, experienced by 
a privileged being, ofwhat awaits humanity after attaining the very limits 
of its knowledge of the earth and its elements: its fusion with the Supreme 
Being, its concentration on a fixed spiritual goal, and its junction with 
other centers of intelligence across the cosmic spaces. Gradually, or in a 
sudden flash of illumination, the alchemist, according to tradition, dis- 
covers the meaning of his long labors. The secrets of energy and of matter 
are revealed to him, and at the same time he glimpses the infinite perspec- 
tives of Life. He possesses the key to the mechanics of the Universe. He 
establishes a new relationship between his own mind, which from now on 
is illuminated, and the universal Mind eternally deepening its concentra- 
tion. Could it be that certain radiations from the "projection powder" 
bring about the transmutation of the psyche? 

The manipulation of fire and certain other substances therefore 
makes possible not only the transmutation of metals, but also the trans- 
formation of the experimenter himself. The latter, under the influence 
of forces emitted by the crucible (that is to say, radiations emitted by 
nuclei undergoing changes in structure) enters himself into a new state. 
Mutations take place within him. His life is prolonged, his intelligence 
and his powers of perception are raised to a higher level. The existence of 
such persons is one of the foundations of the Rosicrucian tradition. 

The alchemist passes to another stage of being, attains a higher 
degree of consciousness. He alone is "awakened,” and to him it seems that 
all other men are still asleep. He escapes from the rest of humanity — 
disappears, like Mallory on Everest, having had his moment of truth. 



110 


PART ONE 


"The philosopher's stone thus represents the first rung on the lad- 
der that helps man to ascend toward the Absolute. Beyond, the mystery 
begins. On this side there is no mystery, no esoterism, no other shadows 
than those projected by our desires and, above all, by our pride. But-just as 
it is easier to content oneself with ideas and words than to do something 
with one's hands, in suffering and weariness, in silence and solitude, so 
is it also more convenient to seek refuge in what is called "pure" thought 
than to struggle singlehanded against the dead weight and darkness of the 
world of matter. Alchemy forbids her disciples to indulge in any escapism 
of this kind, and leaves them face to face with the great Enigma. . . . She 
guarantees nothing except that, if we fight to the end to deliver ourselves 
from ignorance, truth itself will fight for us and in the end will conquer 
everything. This, perhaps, will be the beginning of true metaphysics."* 



There is time for everything — There is even a time for the times to 
come together 


The old alchemic texts affirm that the keys to the secrets of matter are 
to be found in Saturn. By a strange coincidence, everything we know 
today in nuclear physics is based on a definition of the "Saturnian" atom. 
According to Nagasoka and Rutherford, the atom is "a central mass. exer- 
cising an attraction surrounded by rings of revolving electrons." 

It is this "Saturnian" conception of the atom, which is accepted today by 
scientists all over the world, not as an absolute truth, but as the most fruit- 
ful working hypothesis. The physicists of the future, maybe, will consider it 
absurdly naive. The quantum theory and wave mechanics both apply to the 
behavior of electrons. But no theory or system of mechanics gives a precise 
account of the laws that govern the nucleus. It is believed that the latter is 
composed of protons and neutrons, and that is all. 


*Rene Alleau, Preface to Les Clis de la phdosopkie spagyrique (The Keys of the Spagyric 
Philosophy) by M. Le Breton. Editions Caracteres, Paris. 



THE EXAMPLE OF ALCHEMY 


111 


Nothing is known positively about nuclear forces. They are neither 
electric nor magnetic nor gravitational. The latest accepted hypothesis 
connects these forces with particles somewhere between the neutron and 
the proton, which are known as mesons. That is only something to go on 
until more is known. In two years, or in ten years, other hypotheses will, 
no doubt, point in a different direction. In any case, it is clear that we are 
living at a time when scientists have neither the time nor altogether the 
right to study nuclear physics. All available efforts and material are con- 
centrated on the manufacture of explosives and the production of energy. 
Fundamental research is relegated to the background. What is urgent is to 
make the most of what we know already. Power is more important than 
knowledge. This appetite for power is something that the alchemists have 
always managed to avoid. 

Where, then, do we stand now? Contact with neutrons renders all 
elements radioactive. Experimental nuclear explosions poison the planet's 
atmosphere. This poisoning, which follows a geometrical progression, will 
enormously increase the number of stillborn children, cause cancer and 
leukemia, ruin plants, upset the weather, produce monsters, destroy our 
nerves, and finally suffocate us. But governments, whether democratic or 
totalitarian, will not give up testing — and for two reasons. The first is 
that public opinion cannot possibly be consulted, for public opinion is 
not on the planetary level of understanding that alone would enable it to 
react. The second reason is that there are no governments, only limited 
liability companies, with humanity as their capital, whose mission is not 
to make history, but to express the various aspects of historic fatality. 

Now, if we believe in historic fatality, we believe that this is only one 
of the forms of the spiritual destiny of humanity, and that the spiritual 
destiny is an auspicious one. We therefore do not believe that mankind 
will perish, even though it may have to suffer a thousand deaths, but that 
after immense and terrible sufferings it will be born — or reborn — joyfully 
aware that it is still marching onwards. 

Is it true that nuclear physics, used in the interests of power, will, as 
M. Jean Rostand has said, "squander the genetic capital of humanity"? 
Yes, perhaps, for a few years; but it is impossible to believe that science 



112 PART ONE 

will not find a way of cutting the Gordian knot that it has itself created. 

The methods of transmutation known to modern science are pow- 
erless to arrest energy and radioactivity. They are transmutations of a 
strictly limited nature whose harmful effects are nevertheless unlimited. 
If the alchemists are right, there are simple, economical, and safe ways of 
producing transmutations on a large scale. These means would entail the 
"dissolution" of matter and its reconstruction in a different state from 
what it was originally. No discoveries in modern physics would justify a 
belief that such a thing is possible. And yet for thousands of years the 
alchemists have been asserting that it is. The fact is, our ignorance of 
the nature of nuclear forces and of the structure of the nucleus prevents 
us from saying that anything is absolutely impossible. If the alchemists' 
transmutation is really possible, it is because the nucleus has properties of 
which we know nothing. 

The issue is important enough to warrant a really serious study of 
alchemic literature. Even if such a study does not bring to light irrefutable 
facts, there is at least a chance that it will suggest a new line of approach. 
For new ideas are badly needed in nuclear physics in its present state of 
subjection to power politics, and weighed down as it is by the immensity 
of the equipment involved. 

It is now becoming evident that there are infinitely complex struc- 
tures in the interior of the neutron and the proton, and that the so-called 
"fundamental" laws, such as the principle of parity, do not apply to the 
nucleus. We are beginning to hear about an "antimatter," and of the pos- 
sible coexistence of several Universes in the midst of our visible Universe, 
so that anything may be possible in the future, including a vindication 
of alchemy. It would be fitting and in accordance with the noble tradi- 
tions of the alchemic language that our salvation should be brought about 
through the medium of spagyric philosophy. There is time for everything, 
and there is even a time for the times to come together. 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


In which the authors introduce a fantastic personage — Mr. Fort — The fire 
at the "sanatorium of overworked coincidences "■ — Mr. Forf and universal 
knowledge — 40, 000 notes on a gush of periwinkles, a downpour of frogs, 
and showers of blood — 1 he Book of the Damned — A Certain Professor 
Kreyssler — In praise ofintennediarism " with some examples — The 
Hermit of the Bronx, or the cosmic Rabelais — Visit of the author to the 
Cathedral of Saint Elsewhere — Au revoir, Mr. Fort! 

In the year 1910 there lived in New York, in a little bourgeois apartment 
in the Bronx, a little man, neither old nor young, who looked like a very 
shy seal. His name was Charles Hoy Fort. His hands were round and 
plump, his figure paunchy and he had no neck, a big head growing bald, 
a large Asiatic nose, iron-rimmed spectacles and mustaches a la Gurdjieff. 
He seldom went out, except to go to the Municipal Library where he 
devoured a quantity of newspapers, reviews, and yearbooks of all differ- 
ent countries and all periods. Around his roll-topped desk were heaped 
empty shoe boxes and piles of periodicals: the American Almanac of 1833; 
the London Times for the years 1880-93; the Annual Record of Science; 
twenty years of the Philosophical Magazine, Les Annales de la Societe 
Entomologique de France, the Monthly Weather Review, The Observatory, 
the Meteorologicalfournal, etc. ... He wore a green eyeshade, and when 
his wife lit the gas stove for dinner he used .to go into the kitchen to see 
that she didn't set the place on fire. That was the only thing that annoyed 
Mrs. Fort, nee Anna Filan, whom he had chosen for her complete absence 
of intellectual curiosity and of whom he was very fond. 


113 



PART ONE 


Until the age of thirty-four Charles Fort, whose parents had a grocer's 
shop in Albany, had managed to earn a living, thanks to a mediocre tal- 
ent for journalism and his skill in embalming butterflies. On the death of 
his parents he sold the shop, and the slender income he derived from the 
proceeds enabled him at last to devote himself exclusively to his ruling 
passion, which was the accumulation of notes on improbable and yet well 
established events. 

Red rain over Blankenbergue on November 2, 1819; a rain of mud 
in Tasmania on November 14, 1902. Snowflakes as big as saucers in 
Nashville on January 24, 1891; a rain of frogs in Birmingham on June 
30, 1892. Meteorites. Balls of fire. Footprints of a fabulous animal in 
Devonshire. Flying disks. Marks of cupping glasses on mountains. Engines 
in the sky. Erratic comets. Strange disappearances. Inexplicable catastro- 
phes. Inscriptions on meteorites. Black snow. Blue moons. Green suns. 
Showers of blood. 

He collected in this way twenty-five thousand notes, filed in card- 
board boxes. Facts, no sooner recorded than forgotten. And yet — facts. 

He called this his "sanatorium of overworked coincidences." Facts no 
one would speak about. From his files he could hear a "noisy silence" escap- 
ing. He felt a kind of affection for these incongruous realities, banished 
from the realms of knowledge, to which he gave shelter in his humble lit- 
tle office in the Bronx and talked to affectionately as he filed them away. 
"Little trollops and midgets, humpbacks and buffoons all of you; but the 
solidity of the procession as a whole: the impressiveness of things that pass 
and pass and pass and keep on and keep on and keep on coming. ..." 

When he grew tired of passing in review this procession of facts, 
which science had decided to ignore (a flying iceberg fell in fragments on 
Rouen on July 5, 1853. Argosies of celestial travelers. Winged beings at a 
height of 8,000 meters in the sky above Palermo on November 30, 1880. 
Luminous wheels in the sea. Rains of sulfur, of flesh. Remains of giants 
in Scotland. Coffins of little creatures from another world in the cliffs 
at Edinburgh) . . . when he grew tired, he found relaxation in playing all 
alone interminable games of super checkers on a board of his own inven- 
tion that had 1,600 squares. 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


1 1 5 


And then one day Charles Hoy Fort realized that all this formidable 
labor amounted to nothing at all. It was useless, of dubious value, nothing 
but the pastime of a maniac. He perceived that he had only been treading 
on the threshold of what he was obscurely seeking, and that he had done 
none of the things that really needed to be done. This wasn't research, 
only a caricature of the real thing. And this man who was so afraid of fire 
consigned all his boxes and files to the flames. 

He had just discovered his real nature. This maniac with a passion for 
extraordinary occurrences and facts was really only interested in general 
ideas. What had he unconsciously been doing during those half-wasted 
years? Ensconced in his den, surrounded by butterflies and old papers, he 
was in fact attacking one of the most powerful prejudices of this century, 
namely the civilized man's conviction that he knows everything there is to 
know about the Universe in which he lives. Why, then, did Mr. Charles 
Hoy Fort hide himself, as if he had something to be ashamed of? 

The truth is that the slightest allusion to the fact that the Universe may 
contain vast areas of the Great Unknown has a disturbing and disagreeable 
effect on men's minds. Mr. Charles Fort, in fact, was behaving like an eroto- 
maniac: let us keep our vices secret so that society shall not be furious at dis- 
covering that it has been allowing large tracts in the field of sexuality to lie 
fallow. The next stage was to advance from indulgence in a crazy hobby to 
a declaration of principles, and from being a crank to becoming a prophet. 
From now on there was real work to be done — revolutionary work. 

Scientific knowledge is not objective. Fike civilization, it is a con- 
spiracy. Quantities of facts are rejected because they would upset precon- 
ceived ideas. We live under an inquisitional regime where the weapon 
most frequently employed against nonconformist reality is derision. 
Under such conditions, then, what can our knowledge amount to? "In 
the topography of intellection," said Fort, "I should say that what we 
call knowledge is ignorance surrounded by laughter." Therefore we shall 
be obliged to claim another freedom in addition to those guaranteed by 
the Constitution: freedom to disbelieve science. Freedom to disbelieve 
in evolution (suppose Darwin's work was only fiction?), in the rotation 
of the Earth, in the existence of such a thing as the speed of light, in 



116 


PART ONE 


gravitation, etc. To disbelieve everything, in short, except facts. Not 
carefully selected facts, but facts as they occur — noble or ignoble, bas- 
tard or pure-blooded, with all their accompanying oddities and incon- 
gruous appendages. Nothing factual must be rejected; the science of the 
future will discover unknown relationships between facts which seem to 
us disconnected. Science needs to be galvanized by a spirit of insatiable 
curiosity; not credulous, but fresh and wild. What the world needs is an 
encyclopedia of rejected facts and realities that have been condemned, 
"I'm afraid we shall have to give to civilization upon this Earth some 
new worlds. Places with white frogs in them." 

In the space of eight years our timid little seal man from the Bronx 
applied himself to learning all the arts and all the sciences — and to invent- 
ing another half-dozen or so as his own contribution. Smitten by an ency- 
clopedic fever, he devoted himself to the gigantic task, not so much of 
learning, as of taking cognizance of everything in life. "I marveled that 
anybody could be satisfied to be a novelist, or the head of a steel trust, or 
a tailor, or a governor, or a street cleaner." 

Principles, formulae, laws, phenomena of all kinds were devoured 
and digested at the New York Municipal Library, at the British 
Museum, and also thanks to an enormous correspondence with all 
the biggest libraries and bookshops in the world. Result: forty thou- 
sand notes divided into thirteen hundred sections, written in pencil on 
minute scraps of paper in a stenographic language of his own invention. 
And above all, this wild enterprise was presided over by a man with 
the gift of being able to consider each subject from the point of view of 
a superior intelligence confronted with it for the first time. Example: 
"Astronomy. And a watchman looking at half a dozen lanterns where a 
street's been torn up. There are gas lights and kerosene lamps and elec- 
tric lights in the neighborhood: matches flaring, fires in stores, bonfires, 
house afire somewhere; lights of automobiles, illuminated signs — The 
watchman and his one little system. . . ." 

At the same time he resumes his inquiries into facts that have been 
rejected, but systematically this time, taking care to check and cross-check 
all his references. He plans his researches under headings covering astron- 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


117 


omy, sociology, psychology, morphology, chemistry, and magnetism. He no 
longer collects; he tries to invent a compass for navigating oceans "on the 
other side," and to solve the puzzle of other worlds hidden behind this 
world. He must pluck every trembling leaf from the immense tree of fan- 
tasy: screams are heard in the sky over Naples on November 22, 1821; fish 
fall from the clouds over Singapore in 1861; in Indre-et-Loire, on a certain 
April 10th there is a cataract of dead leaves: stone hatchets fall on Sumatra 
in a thunderstorm: living matter descends from the sky; there are kidnap- 
pings by supermen from outer space; derelict worlds are floating all around 
us. ... "I am intelligent, as contrasted with the orthodox. I haven't the 
aristocratic disregard of a New York curator of an Eskimo medicine man; 
I have to dissipate myself in acceptance of a host of other worlds. . . ." 

Mrs. Fort was not in the least interested in all this. She did not even 
see anything strange in it. He never talked about his work, except perhaps 
to one or two astonished friends, to whom he wrote occasionally. "I think 
this is a vice we're writing. I recommend it to those who have hankered 
for a new sin. At first some of our data were of so frightful or ridiculous 
mien as to be hated or eyebrowed. .. . Then some pity crept in." 

With the strain on his eyes there was as a danger of his going blind. 
He stopped work and meditated for some months, eating nothing but 
brown bread and cheese. When his eyes were rested he began to expound 
his own view of the Universe, in which there was no room for dogma, 
and to arouse the interest of those around him by appealing to their sense 
of humor. The more he studied the various sciences, the more aware he 
became of their inadequacies. They needed to be destroyed from the base 
upwards; the attitude behind them was all wrong. A fresh start would have 
to be made by reintroducing the rejected facts on which he had assembled 
a vast documentation. Present them first; explain them afterwards. "I am 
not convinced that we make a fetish of the preposterous. I think our feel- 
ing is that in first gropings there's no knowing what will afterwards be 
the acceptable. I think that if an early biologist heard of birds that grow 
on trees, he should record that he had heard of birds that grow on trees. 
Then let sorting over of data occur afterwards." 

Let everything be reported, then one day we may have a revelation. 



1 1 8 


PART ONE 


The very structure of our knowledge needs to be revised. Charles Hoy 
Fort is full of exciting theories, all tinged with an element of the bizarre. 
He sees science as a highly sophisticated motorcar speeding along on 
a highway. But on either side of this marvelous track, with its shining 
asphalt and neon lightning, there are great tracts of wild country, full of 
prodigies and mystery. 

Stop! Explore in every direction! Leave the high road and wander! 
Even if you have to make wild and clownlike gestures, as people do when 
they are trying to stop a car, no matter; it's urgent! Mr. Charles Hoy Fort, 
the hermit of the Bronx, feels obliged to go through a number of clown- 
ish acts which he considers indispensable as quickly and as energetically 
as possible. 

Convinced of the importance of his mission, and able to dispense now 
with his documentations, he sets out to assemble all his best explosives in 
300 pages. 

He writes his first book. The Book of the Damned, in which he 
proposes "a certain number of experiments concerning the structure of 
knowledge." This work was published in New York in 1919 and pro- 
voked a revolution in intellectual circles. Before the first manifestations 
of Dadaism and Surrealism, Charles Fort introduced into science what 
Tzara, Breton, and their disciples were going to introduce into art and lit- 
erature: a defiant refusal to play at a game where everybody cheats, a furi- 
ous insistence that there is "something else." A huge effort, not so much, 
perhaps, to grasp reality in its entirety, as to prevent reality being con- 
ceived in a falsely coherent way. A rupture that had to be. "I am a horsefly 
that stings the scalp of knowledge to prevent it from sleeping." 

The Book of the Damned? "The crackpots' Golden Bough " — John 
Winterich. "One of the monstrosities of literature" — Edmund Pearson. 
For Ben Hecht, "Charles Fort is the apostle of the exceptional and the 
high priest of the improbable.” Martin Gardner, however, admitted that 
"his sarcasms are in harmony with the best attested analyses of Einstein 
and Russell.” John W. Campbell asserted that "this work contains the 
germs of at least six new sciences." "To read Charles Fort," wrote Maynard 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 119 


Shipley, "is like taking a ride on a comet." While Theodore Dreiser saw in 
him "the greatest literary personality since Edgar Poe." 

It was not until 1955 that The Book of the Damned was published 
in France.* This was done at my instigation but. in spite of an excellent 
translation and introduction by Robert Benayoun and a message from 
Tiffany Thayer, President in the United States of the "Society of Friends 
of Charles Fort," this extraordinary work attracted hardly any attention. 1 

Bergier and I consoled ourselves for this mishap to one of our most 
cherished idols by imagining with what relish he would be listening, from 
the bottom of the super-Sargasso Sea where he has doubtless made his 
home, to the "noisy silence" reaching him from the country of Descartes. 

Our exembalmer of butterflies had a horror of anything fixed or classified 
or defined. Science isolates phenomena in order to observe them. Charles 
Fort's great idea was that nothing can be isolated. An isolated object ceases 
to exist. A swallow-tailed butterfly sucks nectar from a flower. Result: a 
butterfly plus nectar; a flower minus a butterfly's appetite. Every definition 

'Editions des Deux-Rives, Paris; collection "Lumiere interdite," general editor: Louis 
Pauwels. In 1923 Fort published New Lands and afterwatd came Lo! in 1931 and Wild 
Talents in 1932. These works had a certain vogue in America, England, and Australia. I 
am indebted to Robert Benayoun for much of my information. 

tMr. Tiffany Thayer wrote, among other things, as follows: "The qualities of Charles Fort 
greatly impressed a group of American writers who decided to putsue, in his honor, the 
attack which he had launched against the all-powerful priests of the new god: Science, 
and against all forms of dogma. It was for this purpose that the Charles Fort Society was 
founded on January 26, 1931. The founder-members included Theodore Dreiser, Booth 
Tarkington, Ben Hecht, Harry Leon Wilson, John Cowper Powys, Alexander Woolcott, 
Burton Rascoe, Aaron Sussman, and the secretary, the undersigned, Tiffany Thayer. 
Charles Fort died in 1932 shortly before the publication of his fourth book, Wild Tal- 
ents. The innumerable notes he had assembled from libraries throughout the world and 
from his international correspondence were bequeathed to the Charles Fort Society; 
today they fotm the nucleus of the archives of this society, which are swollen every day 
by contributions from members in forty-nine countries, not counting the United States. 
The Society publishes a quarterly review: Doubt. This is also a sort of clearinghouse for 
all the 'outlawed' facts, i.e., those which orthodox science cannot or will not accept, e.g., 
the flying saucets. In point of fact, the body of information and statistics on this subject 
which the Society possesses is the oldest, most extensive, and the most complete in exis- 
tence. The review Doubt also publishes some of Fort's notes." 



of a thing in itself is a crime against reality. "In some so-called savage tribes 
the feebleminded are held in great respect. It is generally recognized that 
the definition of an object in terms of itself is a sign of feeblemindedness. 
All scientists begin by using this kind of definition, and in our communi- 
ties scientists are held in great respect." 

Here we have Charles Hoy Fort, lover of the unusual, recorder of 
miracles, engaged in the formidable task of reflecting on reflection. What 
he is attacking is the mental structure of civilized man. He is completely 
out of sympathy with the two-stroke motor which is the driving power 
of modern reasoning. Two strokes: Yes and No, Positive and Negative. 
Modern knowledge and modern intelligence are based on this binary sys- 
tem: right, wrong, open, closed; living, dead, liquid, solid, etc. . .. Where 
Fort is opposed to Descartes is in his insistence that we should envisage 
the general from an angle that would allow the particular to be defined 
in its relation thereto, in such a way that every object or thing would be 
seen as intermediaries between other things. What he demands is a new 
mental structure, capable of recognizing as real the intermediate states 
between the yes and the no, the positive and the negative. In other words, 
a system of reasoning which is higher than binary and would be, as it 
were, a third eye for the intelligence. 

To express what this third eye perceives, language (which is a binary 
product, an organized conspiracy, and limitation) is not sufficient. Fort 
was therefore constrained to use double-faced adjectives, Janus-epithets 
such as "real-unreal," "immaterial-material," "soluble-insoluble," etc. 

One day when Bergier and I were lunching with him [Fort], a friend 
of ours invented, out of his head, a grave Austrian Professor, the son of an 
innkeeper at Magdebourg called Kreyssler. The Herr Professor Kreyssler, 
he informed us, had undertaken the gigantic task of refashioning the lan- 
guage of the West. Our friend was thinking of publishing in a serious 
review a study of "The Verbalism of Kreyssler," which would have been 
a very fruitful mystification. This Kreyssler, then, had tried to loosen the 
corset of language so that it would find room for the intermediary states 
neglected in our present mental structure. Let us take an example: back- 
wardness and progress {"retard" and "avarice"). How am I to define the 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


12 1 

backwardness of the progress I hoped to make? There is no word for it. 
Kreyssler proposed: "atard." And for my progress in making up for my 
backwardness? — "revance."* 

Here we are talking about intermediate degrees in time. Now let us 
take the plunge into psychological states. Love and hate. If I love in a cow- 
ardly way, loving only myself through the other person and thus being on 
the way to hate, is this love? No; it is only "I hate." 

If, on the other hand, I hate my enemy, without however losing the 
thread of unity that binds all creatures, doing my duty as an enemy 
but reconciling hatred and love, this would be "hatrove.” And now for 
the fundamental intermediates. What is dying, and what is living? So 
many intermediate states that we refuse to recognize! There is "mouvre" 
("delive"), which is not living but merely preventing oneself from dying. 
And there is "virir" ( " lidie " ) which is really living despite having to die. 
Finally, the states of consciousness. For example, our consciousness is 
suspended between sleeping and waking. How often is my consciousness 
only " wakleeping" ("vemir"), thinking it is awake when it is allowing itself 
to sleep! If, on the other hand, knowing its inclination to sleep it tries to 
keep awake, that would be a state of "slakefiilness" ("doriller"). 

Our friend had just been reading Fort when he presented us with this 
farcical but ingenious idea. "In general metaphysical terms," said Fort, 
"our expression is that, like a purgatory, all that is commonly described as 
'existence,' which we call 'Intermediateness,' is quasiexistence, neither real 
nor unreal, but an expression of the attempt to become real, or to gener- 
ate for or recruit a real existence." Such an enterprise is without a paral- 
lel in modern times. It foreshadows the great changes in the structure of 
the mind that are called for today by the discovery of certain physico- 
mathematical realities. Where the particle is concerned, for example, time 
moves in two directions at once. Equations are both true and false. Light 
is continuous and at the same time interrupted. 

"But that all that we call 'Being' is motion; and that all motion is 
the expression not of equilibrium, but of equilibrating, or of equilibrium 


'[Possible English equivalents could be: "slowgress" and "back-forwardness" — Trans.] 



122 


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unattained; and that to have what is called being is to be intermediate to 
Equilibrium and Inequilibrium." These words were spoken in 1919 and 
echo the observations of a contemporary biologist and physicist. Jacques 
Menetrier, on the inversion of the entropy: 

All phenomena in our intermediary state, or quasistate of being 
represent a movement toward organization, harmonization, and 
individualization, in other words, an attempt to attain reality. But 
all attempts are thwarted by continuity, or by external forces — 
nonrecognized facts side by side with others that are recognized. 

This anticipates one of the most abstract operations in quantum phys- 
ics: the normalization of functions — an operation which consists in deter- 
mining the function characterizing a physical object in such a way that it 
is possible to find this object anywhere in the entire Universe. 

"We conceive of all things as occupying gradations, or steps in series 
between realness and unrealness." That is why it was all the same to Fort 
whether he started with this fact or that in trying to describe totality. And 
why choose a rational and reassuring fact rather than a disturbing one? 
Why exclude? "One measures a circle, beginning anywhere." For example, 
he drew attention to flying objects. There you have a group of facts from 
which it possible to begin to understand totality. But he hastens to assert 
that "gushes of periwinkles would be just as good." 

"We are not realists. We are not idealists. We are intermediatists." But 
how is anyone to make himself understood if he attacks the very roots of 
understanding, the basic principles of the intellect? By an apparent eccen- 
tricity, which is the shock-language of the genuine "centralist" genius: the 
more far-fetched his images, the surer he is to be able to connect them 
with the focal point of his profoundest meditations. To a certain extent, 
Charles Hoy Fort follows Rabelais's example, blending humor and imag- 
ery in a chorus loud enough to wake the dead. 


I am a collector of notes upon subjects that have diversity, such as 
deviations from concenrriciry in the lunar crater Copernicus and a 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


sudden appearance of purple Englishmen, stationary meteor radi- 
ants; and a reported growth of hair on the bald head of a mummy. 
But my liveliest interest is not so much in things as in relations of 
things. I have spent much time thinking about the alleged pseudo- 
relations that are called coincidences. What if some of them should 
not be coincidences? 

In days of yore, when I was an especially bad young one, my punish- 
ment was having to go to the store on Saturdays and work. I had 
to scrape oil labels of other dealers' canned goods and paste on my 
parents' label. . . . One time I had pyramids of canned goods con- 
taining a variety of fruit and vegetables. But I had used all except 
peach labels. I pasted the peach labels on peach cans and then came 
to apricots. Well, aren't apricots peaches? And there are plums that 
are virtually apricots. I went on either mischievously or scientifically, 
pasting the peach labels on cans of plums, cherries, string beans, and 
succotash. I can't quite define my motive, because to this day it has 
not been decided whether I am a scientist or a humorist. 

If there are no positive differences, it is not possible to say what any- 
thing is, as positively distinguished from anything else. What is a 
house? A ham is a house, if one lives in it. If residence constitutes 
houseness because style of architecture does not. then a bird's nest 
is a house, and human occupancy is not the standard to judge by, 
because we speak of dogs' houses; nor material, because we speak of 
snow houses of Eskimos ... or things seemingly so positively differ- 
ent as the White House in Washington and a shell on the seashore 
are seen to be continuous. 

White coral islands in a dark blue sea. Their seeming of distinct- 
ness: the seeming of individuality, or of positive difference one from 
another — but all are only projections from the same sea bottom. 

The difference between sea and land is not positive. In all water 
there is some earth; in all earth there is some water. So then that all 



124 


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seeming things are not things at all, if all are intercontinuous, any 
more than is a table leg a thing in itself, if it is only a projection from 
something else: that not one of as is a real person if, physically, we 
are continuous with environment; if, psychically, there is nothing to 
us but expression of relation to environment. Our general expression 
has two aspects: conventional monism, or that all things that scorn 
to have identity of their own are only islands that are projections 
from something underlying, and have no real outlines of their own. 

By "beauty," I mean that which seems complete. Obversely, that the 
incomplete, or the mutilated, is the ugly. Venus of Milo: to a child 
she is ugly. When a mind adjusts to thinking of her as a completeness 
. . . she is beautiful. A hand, thought of only as a hand, may seem 
beautiful; found on a battlefield — obviously a part — not beautiful. 

But everything in our experience is only a part of something else that 
in turn is only a part of still something else — or that there is nothing 
beautiful in our experience; only appearances that are intermediate 
to beauty and ugliness — that only universality is complete; that only 
the complete is the beautiful: that every attempt to achieve beauty is 
an attempt to give to the local the attribute of the universal. 

Fort's profound thinking is thus based on the subjacent unity of every 
thing and of all phenomena. Yet civilized thought at the end of the nine- 
teenth century opened parentheses everywhere, and our binary system of 
reasoning can only conceive duality. So, then, we see the crazy wise man 
of the Bronx in revolt against the exclusionist science of his day, and also 
against the very structure of our intelligence. It seems to him another 
kind of intelligence is needed: an intelligence partly mystical, and awak- 
ened to an awareness of the presence of Totality. From these premises he 
goes on to suggest other methods of knowledge. To prepare us for this he 
proceeds to tear up, or blow up, our set ways of thinking. "I'll send you 
reeling against the doors that open on to 'something other."' 

And yet Mr. Fort is not an idealist. He militates against our limited 
realism: we reject reality when it is fantastic. Mr. Fort does not preach a 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


I 2 S 


new religion. On the contrary, he endeavors to surround his teaching with 
a barrier to prevent the feebleminded from entering. That "everything is 
in everything," that the Universe is contained in a grain of sand, he is 
convinced. But this metaphysical certainty can only be apprehended at 
the highest level of our reflective intelligence. Brought down to the level 
of an elementary occultism it would appear ridiculous. It cannot be used 
to justify the ravings of analogical thinking so dear to those rather sus- 
pect esoterics who are continually explaining one thing by something else: 
the Bible by numbers, the last war by the Great Pyramids, Revolution by 
cartomancy and my future by the stars — and who see signs everywhere. 

"There is probably a connection between a rose and a hippopotamus 
and yet no young man would ever think of offering his fiancee a bou- 
quet of hippopotami." Mark Twain, denouncing the same false thinking, 
declared jokingly that the Spring Song can be explained by the Tables of 
the Law since Moses and Mendelssohn are the same name: you have only 
to replace "-oses" by "-endelssohn." And Charles Fort renews the attack 
with this caricature: "An elephant can be identified as a sunflower: both 
have long stems. A camel is indistinguishable from a peanut, if only their 
humps be considered.” There you have a picture of the man — one who 
carries his solid learning lightly. Let us see now how his thought can be 
expanded to cosmic dimensions. 

Supposing the Earth itself, as such, were not real? What if it were only 
something intermediary in the Cosmos? Perhaps the Earth has no inde- 
pendent existence, and perhaps life on the Earth is by no means indepen- 
dent of other lives and other existences in space. 

Forty thousand notes on all sorts of rains that have fallen on the 
earth obliged Charles Fort to admit the hypothesis that most of them 
were not of terrestrial origin. "I suggest that beyond this earth are 
other lands from which come things as, from America, float things to 
Europe " 

It should be made quite clear that Fort is certainly not naive. He 
does not believe everything. He only protests against our habit of denying 
everything a priori. He does not point his finger at truths; he hits out with 



126 


PART ONE 


his fists to demolish the scientific set up of his day, built up of truths so 
very imperfect as to resemble errors. Ifhe laughs, it is because there seems 
to be no reason why man's striving after knowledge should not sometimes 
be accompanied by laughter, which is also human. Does he invent? dream? 
extrapolate? A cosmic Rabelais? He admits it: 

"This book," he writes, "is fiction, like Gulliver's Travels, The Origin 
of Species, Newton's Principia, and every history of the United States." 

"Black rains and black snows, jet-black snowflakes " "Slag washed 

upon the Scottish coast — to have produced so much of it would have 
required the united output of all the smelting works in the world." "My 
own notion is of an island near an oceanic trade route: it might receive 
debris from passing vessels." Why not debris or refuse from interstellar 
ships? 

Sometimes, again, rains contain animal substances, gelatinous matter 
accompanied by a strong smell of decay. "Will it be admitted that there 
are vast viscous and gelatinous regions floating about in infinite space?" 
Could all this be accounted for by food cargoes deposited in the sky by 
the Great Travelers from other worlds? 

"We have a sense of a stationary region overhead in which this 
Earth's gravitational and meteorological forces are relatively inert, or a 
region that receives products like this Earth's products, but from exter- 
nal sources." 

What about the rains that contain live animals — fish, frogs, tortoises? 
If they come from elsewhere, then human beings, too, ancestrally speak- 
ing, may also come from "elsewhere." . . . Unless they are animals that 
have been snatched up from the Earth by hurricanes or whirlwinds and 
deposited in a region in outer space where there is no gravitation, a sort 
of cold chamber where the objects ravished in this way are indefinitely 
preserved. 

Removed from the Earth, and having crossed the threshold of the 
gates opening on to "elsewhere," they are assembled in a kind of super- 
sea of Sargasso in the skies, "Objects caught up in hurricanes may enter a 
region of suspension over this Earth. ..." 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


127 


Those are your data; do with them as you please. . . . Where do the 
whirlwinds go? Of what do they consist?... A super-sea of Sargasso: 
derelicts, rubbish, old cargoes from interplanetary wrecks; things 
cast out into what is called space by convulsions of other planets, 
things from the times of the Alexanders, Caesars, and Napoleons of 
Mars or Jupiter or Neptune. Things raised by this Earth's cyclones: 
horses and barns and elephants and flies, and dodos, pterodactyls, 
and moas; leaves from modern trees and leaves of the carboniferous 
era — all, however, tending to disintegrate into homogeneous-looking 
muds or dusts — red or black or yellow — treasure troves for the pale- 
ontologists and for the archaeologists — accumulations of centuries, 
cyclones of Egypt, Greece, and Assyria. . .. 

When lightning is accompanied by thunderbolts, the peasants 
thought they were meteorites. Scientists exclude meteorites. Peasants 
believe in "thunderstones"; Scientists exclude thunderstones. It is 
useless to argue that peasants are out in the fields and that scientists 
are shut up in laboratories and lecture rooms 

Thunderbolts apparently shaped and covered with marks and signs 

Could it be that other worlds were trying, in this and other ways, to com- 
municate with us, or at any rate, with some of us? "With a sect, perhaps, 
or a secret society, or certain esoteric ones of this Earth's inhabitants.” . . . 
There are innumerable instances of attempts at this kind of communica- 
tion. "Because of our experience with suppression and disregard, we sus- 
pect, before we go into the subject at all, that astronomers have seen these 
phenomena; that meteorologists and navigators have seen them; that indi- 
vidual scientists and other trained observers have seen them many times; 
that it is the System that has excluded data of them." 

We would remind readers once again that this was written about 
1910. Today the Russians and the Americans are building laboratories to 
study signals that might be coming to us from other worlds. 

Perhaps we have been visited in the distant past? And supposing the 
paleontologists were wrong, and that the great skeletal remains discovered 



12 8 


PART ONE 


by the exclusionist scientists of the nineteenth century had been arbitrarily 
assembled? Were they the remains of gigantic beings, occasional visitors to 
our planet? What really obliges us to believe in the prehuman fauna talked 
about by the paleontologists who know no more about it than we do? 

No matter how cheerful and unsuspicious my disposition may be, 
when I go to the American Museum of Natural History dark cyni- 
cisms arise the moment I come to the fossils or old bones that have 
been found — gigantic things, reconstructed into terrifying but 
"proper" Dinosaurs. On one of the floors below they have a recon- 
structed Dodo. It's frankly a fiction . . . but it's been reconstructed 
so cleverly and so convincingly. . . . 

Why, if we have been visited, before, are we not visited now? A 
simple and immediately acceptable answer would be: Would we, if we 
could, educate and sophisticate pigs, geese, cattle? Would it be wise 
to establish diplomatic relarions with the hen that now functions, 
satisfied with mere sense of achievement by way of compensation? 

I think we are property. I should say we belong to something; that 
once upon a time this Earth was no-man's land, that other worlds 
explored and colonized here and fought among themselves for pos- 
session, but that now it's owned by something; that something owns 
this Earth — all others warned off. Nothing in our own times has 
ever appeared upon this Earrh, from somewhere else so openly as 
Columbus landed upon San Salvador, or as Hudson sailed up his 
river. But as to surreptitious visits to this Earth in recent times, or 
as to emissaries, perhaps, from other worlds, or voyagers who have 
shown every indication of intent to evade and avoid, we shall have 
data as convincing as our data of oil, or coalburning aerial super- 
constructions. But in this vast subject I shall have to do consider- 
able neglecting or disregarding myself. I do not see how I can in 
this book take up at all the subject of the possible use of humanity 
to some other mode of existence, or the flattering notion that we 
can possibly be worth something. Pigs, geese, and cattle. First find 
out that they are owned. Then find out the whyness of it. I suspect 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


129 


that, after all, we're useful — that among contesting claimants adjust- 
ment has occurred, or that something now has a legal right to us, 
by force, or by having paid out analogues of beads for us to former, 
more primitive, owners of us — and that all this has been known, 
perhaps for ages, to certain ones upon this Earth, a cult, or Order, 
members of which function like bellwethers to the rest of us, or as 
superior slaves or overseers, directing in accordance with instructions 
received — from Somewhere else — in our mysterious usefulness. 

In the past, before proprietorship was established, inhabitants of a 
host of other worlds have dropped here, hopped here, wafted, sailed, 
flown, motored — walked here, for all I know — been pulled here, 
been pushed; have come singly, have come in enormous numbers; 
have visited occasionally, have visited periodically, for hunting, trad- 
ing, mining, replenishing harems: have established colonies here, have 
been lost here; far-advanced peoples, or things, and primitive peoples 
or whatever they were — white ones, black ones, yellow ones. .. . 

We are not alone; the Earth is not alone; "I think we're all bugs and mice, 
and are only different expressions of an all-inclusive cheese" whose odor 
of fermentation we dimly perceive. There are other worlds behind ours, 
other lives behind what we call life. We must do away with the parenthe- 
ses of exclusionism in exchange for the hypotheses of a fantastic Unity. 
And no matter if we make mistakes, such as drawing a map of America 
on which the Hudson is set down as a passage leading to Siberia; what is 
essential, at a time like this when new methods of knowledge and new 
ways of thinking are being opened up, is that we should have no doubts at 
all that maps will have to be altered, that the world is not what we thought 
it was, and that we ourselves, in the depths of our own consciousness will 
have to change into something different from what we were before. 

Other worlds are in communication with the Earth. Proofs of this 
exist. Those, which we think we can see, are not, perhaps, the right ones. 
But they exist. The marks of cupping glasses on mountains: do they prove 
anything? We do not know. At least they stimulate us to look for further 


signs: 



130 


PART ONE 


. . . These marks look to me like symbols of communication. But 
they do not look to me like means of communication between some 
of the inhabitants of this Earth and other inhabitants of this Earth. 
My own impression is that some external force has marked, with 
symbols, rocks of this Earth from far away. I do not think that cup 
marks are inscribed communications among different inhabitants 
of this Earth, because it seems too unacceptable that inhabitants 
of China, Scotland, and America should all have conceived of the 
same system. Cup marks are strings of cuplike impressions in rocks. 
Sometimes there are rings around them, and sometimes they have 
only semicircles. England, France, America, Algeria, Circassia, and 
Palestine — they are virtually everywhere — except, in the far North, 
I think. In China cliffs are dotted with them. On a cliff near Lake 
Como there is a maze of these markings. In Italy, Spain, and India 
they occur in enormous numbers. Given that a force, say, like electric 
force, could from a distance, mark such a substance as rocks as, from a 
distance of hundreds of miles, selenium can be marked by telephotog- 
raphers. But I am of two minds: the Lost Explorers from Somewhere, 
and an attempt from Somewhere, to communicate with them: so a 
frenzy of showering of messages reward this Earth in the hope that 
some of them would mark rocks near the lost explorers. Or that some- 
where upon this Earth, there is an especial rocky surface or receptor 
or Polar construction, or a steep conical hill upon which for ages have 
been received messages from some other world; but that, at times, mes- 
sages go astray and mark substances perhaps thousands of miles from 
the receptor; that perhaps forces behind the history of this Earth have 
left upon the rocks of Palestine, England, China, and India records 
that may some day be deciphered, of their misdirected instructions to 
certain esoteric ones — Order of the Freemasons, the Jesuits — . 


No image can be too fanciful, no hypothesis too extreme: anything 
can be used to storm the fortress. There are such things as flying engines 
and space explorers. And suppose they pick up en route, for examination, 
a few living organisms from the Earth? ... "I think that we're fished for. 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


It may be that we are highly esteemed by superepicures somewhere. It 
makes me more cheerful when I think that we may be of some use after 
all. I think that dragnets have often come down and have been mistaken 
for whirlwinds and waterspouts. ... I think we're fished for, but this is a 
little expression on the side. . . ." 

And now we have reached the depths of the inadmissible, murmurs of 
our strange Mr. Charles Hoy Fort with quiet satisfaction. He takes offhis 
green eyeshade, rubs his big tired eyes, smoothes down his seal's mustache 
and goes off to the kitchen to see whether his good wife Anna, in cook- 
ing the haricots for dinner, is not in danger of setting fire to the shed, the 
folders, the card index, the museum of coincidences, the conservatory of 
the improbable, the salon of celestial artists, the office of fallen objects, 
and to that library of other worlds, that Cathedral of Saint Elsewhere, 
and the fabulous and shining Jester's costume that Wisdom wears. 

Anna, my dear, turn off your gas. 

Good appetite, Mr. Fort. 


] j An hypothesis condemned to the stake — Where a clergyman and a biologist 

become comic figures — Wanted: a Copernicus in anthropology — Many 
blank spaces on all the maps — Dr. Fortune's lack of curiosity — The 
mystery ofthe melted platinum — Cords used as books — The tree and 
the telephone — Cultural relativity 

As an example of militant action in favor of the greatest possible degree 
of open-mindedness, and as an initiation into the cosmic consciousness, 
the works of Charles Fort have been a direct source of inspiration for 
the greatest poet and champion ofthe theory of parallel Universes. H. P. 
Lovecraft, the father of what has come to be known as science fiction, to 
which he has contributed some ten or fifteen masterpieces of their kind, a 
sort of Iliad and Odyssey of a forward-marching civilization. To a certain 
extent, we too have been inspired in our task by the spirit of Charles Fort. 



132 


PART ONE 


We do not believe everything, but we believe that everything ought to be 
investigated. Sometimes an inquiry into doubtful facts will throw into 
their proper perspective facts that are true. Complete results cannot be 
achieved if anything is omitted. Like Fort, we are trying to repair certain 
omissions, and are prepared to run the risk of being accused of aberra- 
tions. We will leave to others the task of discovering which are the right 
tracks to follow in our jungle. 

Fort studied everything that had apparently fallen from the sky. We 
are studying all the probable, or less probable, traces left on the Earth 
by civilizations that have long since disappeared. No hypothesis is 
excluded: an atomic civilization long before what we call the prehistoric 
era; enlightenment received from the inhabitants of Another World, etc. 
. . . Considering that the scientific study of humanity's remote past has 
scarcely begun and is at present in a state of complete confusion, these 
hypotheses are no wilder and just as well founded as those which are cur- 
rently admitted. The important thing, in our opinion, is to throw open 
the whole question as wide as possible. We are not going to impose upon 
you a thesis on vanished civilizations, but merely to suggest that you envis- 
age the problem from a new and noninquisitorial point of view. 

According to the classical method there are two kinds of facts: the 
"cursed" ones and the others. For example, the descriptions of flying 
engines in very ancient sacred texts, the use of parapsychological powers 
among primitive peoples, or the presence of nickel in coins dating from 
235 BC are "cursed" facts. 

They are banned; no one will even investigate them. And there are 
two kinds of hypotheses: the disquieting ones and the others. The fres- 
coes discovered in the caves at Tassili in the Sahara represent, among 
other things, human figures wearing helmets with long horns from which 
project spindles outlined in myriads of little points, or dots. Ears of corn, 
we are told; the symbol of a pastoral civilization. Possibly; but there is 
nothing to prove it. And suppose this was a way of representing a mag- 
netic field? Shame! A shocking suggestion! Witchcraft! To the stake! 

The following is an extreme example of what the classical, or as we 
call it, the inquisitorial method, may lead to: 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 133 

An Indian clergyman, the Rev. Pravanananvanda, and an American 
biologist, a Professor Strauss of the Johns Hopkins University, have just 
identified the "Abominable Snowman" as being none other than the 
brown Himalayan bear. Neither of these gentlemen has seen the animal. 
They have stated, however, that "since our hypothesis is the only one 
which is not fantastic, it must be the right one." So it would be a deroga- 
tion of the scientific spirit to pursue useless researches. All honor to our 
clergyman and doctor! It only remains for us to inform the Yeti that he is 
the brown Himalayan bear. 

Our method, in keeping with the times we live in, not unlike the 
Renaissance, is based on the principle of toleration. No more inquisi- 
tions. We refuse to exclude facts and reject hypotheses. Sifting lentils 
is a useful action; gravel is unfit for human consumption. But there is 
nothing to prove that certain rejected hypotheses and certain "accursed" 
facts are not nourishing. We are not working on behalf of the weak and 
the allergic, but for all those who, as the saying goes, have "guts." 

We are convinced that the study of past civilizations has been marred 
by numerous cases of rejected evidence, a priori exclusions and inquisito- 
rial executions. The humane sciences have made less progress than physical 
and chemical science, and the positivist nineteenth-century spirit still reigns 
supreme, and is all the more exacting because it knows it is doomed. 

Anthropology is awaiting its Copernicus. Before Copernicus, the Earth 
was the center of the Universe. For the classical anthropologist our civi- 
lization is the center of all human thought in space and time. Let us pity 
poor primitive man, engulfed in the darkness of his prelogical mentality. 
Five hundred years separate us from the Middle Ages, and we are only just 
beginning to exonerate this epoch from the charge of obscurantism. The 
century of Louis XV paved the way for modern Europe, and the recent 
work of Pierre Gaxotte has done much to demolish the view that this 
century was a stronghold of egoism erected to arrest the flow of history. 
Our civilization, like any other, is a conspiracy. 


Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough is a standard and authoritative 
work containing a description of the folklore of every country. Not for a 



134 


PART ONE 


moment did it enter his head that he was dealing with anything but some 
touching superstitions and picturesque customs. 

Savages suffering from infectious illnesses eat Penicillum notatum (a 
kind of mushroom); this must be a form of imitative magic whereby they 
seek to increase their vigor by consuming this phallic symbol. Their use 
of digitaline is no doubt another superstition. The science of antibiotics, 
operations done under hypnosis, creating artificial rain by scattering salts 
of silver, for examples, ought to be enough to remove the label of "naive" 
attached to certain primitive practices. 

Sir James Frazer, confident of belonging to the only civilization wor- 
thy of the name, refuses to envisage the possibility of "inferior” peoples 
possessing technical skills, which, though different from our own, are 
nonetheless real, and his Golden Bough is like one of those illuminated 
maps of the world designed by artists who only knew the Mediterranean 
and used to fill up the blank spaces with drawings and inscriptions: "Here 

is the country of the Dragons," "Here the Island of Centaurs " And did 

not the nineteenth century too, in every domain, make haste to camou- 
flage all the blank spaces everywhere — even on geographical maps? There 
is in Brazil, between the Rio Tapajos and the Rio Xingu, an unknown 
land as big as Belgium. No explorer has ever approached El Yafri, the for- 
bidden city of Arabia. A Japanese division under arms in New Guinea 
disappeared one day in 1943 without leaving any trace. And if the two 
Great Powers who share the world between them ever reach agreement, 
the real map of the planet will have some surprises in store for us. 

Ever since the H-bomb, the military have been secretly listing the 
whereabouts of underground caves: an extraordinary subterranean laby- 
rinth in Sweden; caves beneath the soil ofVirginia and Czechoslovakia; 
a hidden lake under the Balearic Islands. . . . Blank spaces on the physi- 
cal world, blanks on the world of humanity. We do not know everything 
about man's powers or the resources of his intelligence and psychic make 
up, and we have invented Islands of Centaurs and Dragon Lands: prelogi- 
cal mentality, superstition, folklore, imitative magic. 

Hypothesis: some civilizations have gone much further than we have 
in exploiting parapsychological powers. 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 135 

Answer: there are no parapsychological powers. 

Lavoisier proved that meteorites did not exist by stating: "It is impos- 
sible for stones to fall from the sky because there are no stones in the sky." 
Simon Newcomb proved that it would be impossible for airplanes to fly 
since an airship heavier than air was an impossibility. 

Dr. Fortune went to New Guinea to study the Dobu tribe. They are 
a people of magicians, whose peculiarity it is to believe that their magi- 
cal techniques are valid everywhere and for everyone. When Dr. Fortune 
went away, one of the natives presented him with a charm that had the 
power of conferring invisibility, saying: "I often use it for stealing pork 
in broad daylight. Follow my instructions carefully, and you will be able 
to pinch anything you want in the shops in Sydney." . . . "Naturally," 
remarked Dr. Fortune, "I never tried it out." Remember the saying of our 
friend, Charles Fort: "In the topography of the intelligence, knowledge 
could be defined as ignorance accompanied by derision." 

Nevertheless, a new school of anthropology is coming into being, 
and M. Levi-Strauss has aroused indignation by boldly declaring that 
the Negritos are probably more advanced than we are in psychotherapy. 
A pioneer of this new school, the American William Seabrook, went to 
Haiti just after the First World War to study the Voodoo cult. Not to 
observe it from the outside, but to take an active part in this magic and 
enter this other world with an open mind. Paul Morand* has written the 
following magnificent tribute to him: 

Seabrook is perhaps the only white man of our time to have received 
the baptism of blood. He did so without skepticism and without fanat- 
icism. His attitude toward mystery is that of a man of today. Science 
in the last ten years has brought us to the brink of the Infinite: there, 
anything might happen in future — interplanetary travel, discovery of 
the fourth dimension, radio communication with God. Our superior- 
ity over our forefathers must be admitted in so far as from now on we 
are ready for anything, less credulous and more ready to believe. 


'Preface to The Magic Island, by William Seabrook. 



136 


PART ONE 


The farther we go back into the origins of the world, and the more 
closely we study primitive peoples, the more often we discover that 
their traditional secrets coincide with the present state of scientific 
research. It is only recently that the Milky Way has been considered 
as the source and origin of the stellar world: the Aztecs, however, 
expressly affirmed it, and no one believed them. Savages have pre- 
served what science is rediscovering today. They believed in the unity 
of matter long before the hydrogen atom was isolated. They believed 
in tree-men and iron-men long before Sir J. C. Bose measured the 
sensitivity of plants and poisoned metal with cobras' venom. "Human 
faith," said Huxley in Essays of a Biologist, "has passed from the Spirit 
to spirits, and then from spirits to gods and from gods to God." It 
could be added that from God we return to the Spirit. 

But if we are to show that the traditional secrets of the "primitives'' coin- 
cide with our present researches, it will be necessary to establish communi- 
cations between anthropology and recent advances in the physical, chemical, 
and mathematical sciences. The simple traveler, intelligent, full of curiosity 
and with a historical and literary background, is in danger of missing some 
of the most important discoveries. Exploration up to now has been only a 
branch of literature, a subjective activity indulged in as a luxury. When it 
develops into something else, we shall then perhaps perceive that there have 
been, in remotest antiquity, civilizations endowed with a technical equip- 
ment as important and extensive as ours, though of a different nature. 

J. Alden Mason, an eminent and very orthodox anthropologist, asserts 
and produces reliable evidence to support his claim, that ornaments made 
of melted platinum have been found on the high plateaus in Peru. Now 
platinum's melting point is 1730°C, and to work it, techniques compa- 
rable to our own would be required.* 

’Further mysteries in the history of techniques include the following: The method of 
spectral analysis has recently been employed by the Institute of Applied Physics of the 
Chinese Academy of Science to examine a girdle with openwork ornaments, 1,600 years 
old, found buried along with a lot of other objects in the tomb of the famous Tsin Gen- 
eral, Chou Chou, who lived about AD 265-316. It appears that the metal in this girdle 



THE VAN/SHED CIVILIZATIONS 


13 7 

Professor Mason sees the difficulty, and concludes that these orna- 
ments were made from powder obtained by calcination, and not melted. 
This supposition reveals a real ignorance of metallurgy . 

A ten-minute study of Schwarzkopfs Treatise on Calcinated Powders 
(Traite des Poudres Frittees) would have shown him that such a hypothesis 
was inadmissible. Why did he not consult specialists in other branches 
of science? This is the whole case against anthropology. Professor Mason 
asserts, equally innocently, that examples have been found, dating from 
the most ancient Peruvian civilization, of the welding of metals by the use 
of resin and molten metallic salts. The fact that this technique is the basis 
of electronics and is used in conjunction with the most advanced technol- 
ogies, seems to have escaped his notice. We apologize for seeming to make 
a display of our knowledge, but it is here that we feel the necessity for the 
"concomitant information" so strongly recommended by Charles Fort. 

Despite his extremely prudent approach. Professor John Alden 
Mason, Curator Emeritus of the Museum of American Antiquities of 
the University of Pennsylvania, does open a door to the realms of fantas- 
tic reality when, in his book The Ancient Civilization of Peru, he speaks 
about the Quipu. The Quipu are cords tied into complicated knots, and 
are a feature of Inca and pre-Inca civilizations.. They appear to be a form 
of writing, and may have been used to express abstract ideas. One of 
the best-known specialists in the matter, Nordenskjold, thinks that the 
Quipu were used for mathematical calculations, horoscopes, and various 
methods of foretelling the future. The problem is a vital one: there may 
be other means of registering thought than writing. 

Let us take the matter further: the knot, on which Quipu is based, is 
considered by modern mathematicians to be one of the greatest mysteries. 


was composed of 85 percent aluminum, 10 percent copper and 5 percent manganese. 
Now, although aluminum is found in many places on the Earth, it is difficult to extract. 
The only method known today of extracting aluminum from bauxite, namely by electrol- 
ysis, has only been in use since 1808. The fact that Chinese technicians were able sixteen 
hundred years ago to extract aluminum from such a bauxite is therefore an important 
discovety in the history of metallurgy. — Horizons No. 89, October 1958. 



13 8 


PART ONE 


It is only possible in an odd number of dimensions; impossible in dimen- 
sions of even numbers — 4, 6, 2 — and the topologists have only been able 
to study the simplest knots. It is therefore not improbable that the Quipri 
may conceal knowledge that we do not yet possess. 

Take another example: modern thinking on the nature of knowledge 
and the structure of the mind might be enriched by a study of the lan- 
guage of the Hopi Indians. This language is better adapted than our own 
to the exact sciences. It contains words representing not verbs or nouns, 
but events, and is thus more applicable to the space-time continuum in 
which we now know that we are living. Furthermore, the "event-word" 
has three moods: certitude, probability, imagination. Instead of saying: a 
man crossed the river in a boat, the Hopi would employ the group: man- 
river-boat in three different combinations, according to whether the event 
was observed by the narrator, reported by a third party, or dreamt. 

The really "modern man," in the sense that Paul Morand and we our- 
selves understand the term, discovers that intelligence is a unity mani- 
fested in different structures, just as man's need for shelter is universal, 
expressed in a thousand different architectural forms. 

It is possible that our civilization is the result of a long struggle to obtain 
from machines the powers that primitive man possessed, enabling him to 
communicate from a distance, to rise into the air. to liberate the energy of 
matter, abolish gravitation, etc. It is also possible that we may ultimately 
discover that these powers can be exercised with an equipment so simple 
that the word "machine" will acquire a different meaning. If this happens, 
we shall have gone from mind to machine and from machine to mind, 
and certain remote civilizations will appear to us to be less remote. 

In his reception address at Oxford University in 1946, Jean Cocteau 
told the following story: 

My friend Pobers, Professor of parapsychology at the University of 
Utrecht, was sent on a mission to the West Indies to study the part 
played there by telepathy, in current use among the simple people. If 
they want to communicate with their husbands or sons in town, the 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 139 

women speak to a tree, and the men bring back whatever they have 
been asked for. One day Pobers was present at one of these occasions 
and asked the peasant woman why she addressed herself to a tree. 

Her reply was surprising and conducive to solving the whole modern 
problem of our instincts being atrophied by the machines on which 
we have come to rely. This, then, was the question: "Why do you 
address yourself to a tree?" And this the answer: "Because I am poor. 

If I were rich I should have the telephone." 

Electroencephalograms of yogis in a state of ecstasy show curves which 
do not correspond to any cerebral activities known to us either in states 
of wakefulness or in sleep. There are plenty of colored blank spaces on 
the map of the mind of civilized man: precognition, intuition, telepathy, 
genius, etc. By the time these regions have been thoroughly explored, and 
a path opened up through various states of consciousness unknown to our 
classical psychologists, the study of ancient civilizations and ofpeoples we 
call primitive will perhaps reveal the existence of veritable technologies 
and essential aspects of knowledge. A cultural "centralism" will be suc- 
ceeded by a relativism that will throw a new and fantastic light on the 
history of humanity. Progress does not consist so much in emphasizing 
parentheses as in multiplying hyphens. 


[I] In which the authors speculate about the Great Pyramid — Possibility of 
"other" techniques — The example of Hitler — The Empire ofAlmanzar — 
Recurrence of "ends ofthe world" — The impossible Easter Island — The 
legend ofthe white man — The civilizations of America — The mystery of 
Maya — From the "bridge of light" to the strange plain ofNazca 


It has taken humanity twenty-two hundred years — from Aristarchus of 
Samos to the year 1900 — to calculate with sufficient accuracy the dis- 
tance from the Earth to the Sun: 92,832,856 miles. To arrive at the same 



PART ONE 


1 4 0 

result it was only necessary to multiply by a thousand million the height 
of the Pyramid of Cheops, built in 2900 BC. 

We know today that the Pharaohs embodied in the Pyramids the 
findings of a science of whose origin and methods we know nothing. 

We find in them the symbol TZ, the exact calculation of the duration 
of the solar year and of the radius and weight of the Earth, the law of 
the precession of the equinoxes, the figure of the degree of longitude, the 
position of the True North, and perhaps many other data not yet deci- 
phered. Where did this knowledge come from? How was it obtained, or 
transmitted? And, in the latter case, by whom? 

The abbe Moreux believes that God imparted scientific knowledge to 
the Ancients. "Hearken to me, O my son: the number 3.1416 will enable 
thee to calculate the surface of a circumference!" . . . 

According to Piazzi Smyth, God dictated this information to the 
Egyptians who were too impious and too ignorant to understand what 
they were inscribing in their stone. And why should God, who is omni- 
scient, be seriously mistaken as to the quality of his pupils? In the opin- 
ion of the positivist Egyptologists, the measurements carried out at Gizeh 
have been faked by explorers too intent on discovering marvels: in fact, 
they reveal no special science. But the discussion turns on questions of 
decimals, and the fact remains that the construction of the Pyramids 
reveals a technique that to us is still totally incomprehensible. Gizeh is 
a mountain weighing 6,500,000 tons. Blocks of twelve tons are adjusted 
to a demimillimeter. The least imaginative idea is the one most generally 
accepted — namely, that the Pharaohs had a colossal manpower at their 
disposal. It has never been explained how the problem of dealing with the 
overcrowding caused by these vast hordes was solved. Nor the reason for 
such a mad undertaking. How were the blocks of stone extracted from the 
quarries? Classical Egyptology recognizes no other technique than the use 
of wedges of wet wood thrust into fissures in the rock. The builders, it 
seems, had only stone hammers, copper saws, and soft metal to work with. 
This only deepens the mystery. How were these chipped stones weighing 
22,046 pounds and more hoisted and put into place? In the nineteenth 
century we had the greatest difficulty in transporting two obelisks, which 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


141 


the Pharaohs used to transport by the dozen. What did the Egyptians use 
to light the interior of the Pyramids? Until 1890 we ourselves only had 
lamps that smoked and left a sooty deposit on the ceiling. No trace of 
smoke, however, has ever been found on the walls of the Pyramids. Did 
they perhaps intercept the Sun's light and convey it to the interior by some 
optical contrivance? No traces of a lens of any kind have been found. 

Nor has any instrument for scientific calculations, nor any evidence of 
an advanced technology been discovered. There are two possible explana- 
tions. The first is the elementary-mystical theory of God dictating astro- 
nomical information to dense but willing stonemasons and lending them 
a helping hand. 

Is it true that there is no scientific knowledge embodied in the 
Pyramids? The positivists maintain that if there is it is only a coincidence. 
When coincidences are, as Fort would have said, as exaggerated as in this 
case, what ought they to be called? 

The second alternative is to believe that a few surrealist architects and 
decorators, in order to satisfy the megalomania of their king, and work- 
ing to measurements improvised and imagined on the spur of the moment, 
succeeded in causing the 2,600,000 blocks of the Great Pyramid to be 
extracted, transported, decorated, hoisted, and adjusted to a demimillime- 
ter by hordes of laborers working with nothing but pieces of wood and saws 
for cutting cardboard and treading on each other's toes. 

All this happened five thousand years ago, and we know almost noth- 
ing about it. What we do know, however, is that research has been in the 
hands of people for whom the techniques of our modern civilization are 
the only ones that count. They are therefore obliged to imagine either 
Divine intervention, or else to look upon the whole thing as a bizarre 
and colossal task performed by antlike hordes. It is possible, however, that 
minds quite different from our own were able to conceive techniques as 
highly perfected as ours, but also quite different, involving instruments 
for measuring and methods of manipulating matter, unlike anything we 
know, and leaving no traces that we can see. It may be that a science and a 
technology of great potency, which provided solutions to these problems 
very different from anything we can imagine, disappeared completely 



142 


PART ONE 


along with the world of the Pharaohs. It is difficult to believe that a civi- 
lization can die and leave no trace. It is still more difficult to believe that 
it could have been so different from our own that we are unable to recog- 
nize it as a civilization. And yet! . . . 

When the War in Europe ended on May 8th, 1945, missions ofinves- 
tigation were immediately sent out to visit Germany after her defeat. Their 
reports have been published; the catalogue alone has 300 pages. Germany 
had only been separated from the rest of the world since 1933. In twelve 
years the technical evolution of the Reich developed along strangely diver- 
gent lines. Although the Germans were behindhand as regards the atomic 
bomb, they had perfected giant rockets unmatched by any in America or 
Russia. They may not have had radar, but they had perfected a system of 
infrared ray detectors that were quite as effective. Though they did not 
invent silicones, they had developed an entirely new organic chemistry, 
based on the eight-ring carbon chain. 

In addition to these radical differences in matters of technique there 
were still more stupefying differences in the field of philosophy .. . . They 
had rejected the theory of relativity and tended to neglect the quan- 
tum theory. Their cosmogony would have startled astrophysicists in 
the Allied countries: they believed in the existence of eternal ice and 
that the planets and the stars were blocks of ice floating in space.* If it 
has been possible for such wide divergencies to develop in the space of 
twelve years in our modern world, in spite of the exchange of ideas and 
mass communications, what view must one take of the civilizations of 
the past? To what extent are our archaeologists qualified to judge the 
state of the sciences, techniques, philosophy, and knowledge that distin- 
guished, say, the Maya or Khmer civilizations? 

We must avoid falling into the trap of paying too much attention 
to legends: Lemuria or Atlantis. Plato, in the Critias, singing the praises 
of the vanished city, and before him, Homer evoking in the Odyssey the 
fabulous Scheria were perhaps describing Tartessos, the biblical Tarshish 
of the Book of Jonah, and the object of the prophet's journey. At the 


*See part 2 of the present work. 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 143 

mouth of the Guadalquivir, Tartessos was the richest mining town in the 
world and represented the quintessence of a civilization. It flourished for 
an unknown number of centuries, and had been the seat of wisdom and 
the depository of many secrets. About the year 500 BC it vanished com- 
pletely, no one knows how or why.* 

It may be that Numinor, that mysterious Celtic center of the fifth cen- 
tury BC, was not a legend 1 but we do not really know. The civilizations of 
whose existence in the past we can be certain but which are now dead are 
quite as strange as Lemuria. The Arab civilization of Cordoba and Granada 
was the cradle of modern science, the founder of experimental research and 
its practical applications; and among the subjects it studied were chemistry 
and even jet propulsion. Arab manuscripts of the twelfth century contain 
designs for rockets used for bombardment. If the Empire ofAlmanzar had 
been as advanced in biology as it was in other spheres, and if the plague 
had not assisted the Spaniards in its destruction, the Industrial Revolution 
would perhaps have started in Andalusia in the fifteenth or sixteenth cen- 
tury, and the twentieth century would then have been the- era of Arab 
interplanetary adventurers colonizing the Moon, Mars, and Venus. 

The Empire of Hitler, like that ofAlmanzar, collapsed in blood and 
fire. One fine morning in June 1940 the sky over Paris grew dark, the air 
was filled with gasoline fumes, and under this immense cloud that black- 
ened the faces of the population overcome by astonishment, terror and 
shame, millions of human beings took blindly to flight along roads raked by 
machine-gun fire. Whoever has lived through that experience, and known 
also the Twilight of the Gods of the Third Reich, can imagine what the end 
of Cordoba and Granada was like, and a thousand other ends of the world 
since time began. The end of the world for the Incas, for the Toltecs, for the 
Mayas: the whole history of humanity — an endless end.... 

Easter Island, 1,864 miles from the coast of Chile, is about as big as Jersey. 
When the first European navigator, a Dutchman, landed there in 1722, 


*cf. Sprague de Camp and Willy Ley, De Utlantide a TEldorado (From Atlantis to Eldo- 
rado), ed. Plon, Paris. 

tcf. Works of Professor Tolkien of Oxford. 



14 4 


PART ONE 


he thought it was inhabited by giants. Towering over this little piece of 
volcanic land in Polynesia are 593 enormous statues. Some of them are 
more than 66 feet high and weigh fifty tons. When were they erected? 
and how? and for what purpose? Examination of these monuments 
reveals, it is thought, three levels of civilization, the most advanced one 
being the oldest. As in Egypt, the enormous blocks of tuff-stone, basalt, 
and lava are adjusted with prodigious skill. The island, however, is hilly, 
and a few stunted trees could not have provided enough rollers; how, 
then, were these huge stones transported? Certainly there was no large 
labor force available. In the nineteenth century the inhabitants of Easter 
island numbered two hundred — three times less than the number of their 
statues, and there can never have been more than three or four thousand 
inhabitants on this island where the soil is fertile, but there are no ani- 
mals. What, then, are we to believe? 

As happened in Africa and in South America, the first missionar- 
ies to arrive on Easter Island took steps to remove all traces of a dead 
civilization. At the foot of the statues there were wooden tablets covered 
with hieroglyphics: these were all burned or dispatched to the Vatican 
Library, which houses many secrets. Was this done to destroy all traces 
of ancient superstitions, or to remove what could have been evidence of 
some Unknown Power? A record of the presence on the Earth of other 
beings — visitors from Elsewhere? 

The first Europeans to visit Easter Island discovered that the inhab- 
itants included a race of white men with beards. Where did they come 
from? The descendants, perhaps, of some degenerate race, in existence for 
many thousands of years and today completely submerged? There are ref- 
erences in legends to a Master Race of Teachers, of great antiquity, fallen 
from the skies. 

Our friend, the Peruvian explorer and philosopher Daniel Ruzo, went 
off in 1952 to investigate the desert plateau of Marcahuasi, situated at a 
height of 12,467 feet to the west of the Cordillera of the Andes.* 

’’Daniel Ruzo, La culture Masma (The Masma Culture), Revue de la Societe 
d'Ethnographie de Paris, 1 9 5 6 and 1 9 5 9. 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


145 


This plateau, where there is no life of any kind and which can only 
be approached on muleback. covers an area of one square mile. Ruzo 
found there animal and human faces carved in the rock and visible only 
at the summer equinox, thanks to a particular combination of light and 
shade. He also found there statues of animals belonging to the second- 
ary era such as the stegosaur; also lions, tortoises, and camels, which are 
unknown in South America. 

One hill was carved in the shape of an old man's head. The nega- 
tive of the photograph showed a radiant young man.. .. Visible, perhaps, 
at some initiation rite? It has not been possible to employ carbon- 14 to 
ascertain the date; there are no organic traces on Marcahuasi. The geo- 
logical indications go back to the remotest antiquity. Ruzo thinks that 
this plateau may have been the cradle of the Masma civilization, perhaps 
the oldest in the world. 

There is evidence pointing to the existence of white men on another 
fabulous plateau, Tiahuanaco, at an altitude of 13,123 feet. When the 
Incas conquered this region around Lake Titicaca, Tiahuanaco was already 
the heap of gigantic, inexplicable ruins that we see today. When Pizarro 
arrived there in 1532, the Indians called their conquerors Viracochas: 
white masters. Their tradition, now more or less extinct, spoke of a mas- 
ter race of huge white men who had come out of space — Sons of the Sun. 
Many thousands of years ago these men had reigned over them and taught 
them. Suddenly they disappeared, but will return again. Everywhere in 
South America, Europeans in quest of gold heard of this tradition of the 
white man, and benefited by it. Their basest desires for conquest and gain 
were aided by these mysterious and lofty memories. 

Modern exploration on the American continent has revealed traces of 
an extraordinarily advanced civilization. Cortez was amazed to discover 
that the Aztecs were as civilized as the Spaniards. We know today that 
they had inherited an even higher culture from the Toltecs. The Toltecs 
erected the most gigantic monuments in all America. The Pyramids of the 
Sun at Teotihuacan and Cholula are twice as large as the tomb of Cheops. 
But the Toltecs were themselves the descendants of an even more perfect 
civilization, that of the Mayas, the remains of which have been discovered 



14 6 


PART ONE 


in the jungles of Honduras, Guatemala, and Yucatan. Buried under huge 
forests of dense vegetation are traces of a civilization far older than that 
of Greece, and some say superior. When and how did this civilization 
perish? It died a double death, in any case, for here, too, the missionaries 
made a point of destroying manuscripts, breaking statues, and demolishing 
altars. Summarizing the results of recent research on vanished civilizations, 
Raymond Cartier writes as follows: 

In many fields the science of the Mayas surpassed that of the Greeks 
and Romans. Possessing a profound knowledge of mathematics and 
astronomy, they had achieved a rare degree of perfection in chro- 
nology and everything pertaining to calendar-making. They built 
observatories whose domes were better orientated than the one 
erected in Paris in the seventeenth century — notably, the Caracol 
with its three terraces in their capital of Chichen Itza. They had 
adopted a sacred year of 260 days, a solar year of 365 days, and a 
Venusian year of 584 days. The exact duration of the solar year has 
been fixed at 365.2422 days. The Mayas put it at 365.2420 days — 
that is to say, within a decimal point of the number we have arrived 
at after lengthy calculations. It is possible that the Egyptians arrived 
at the same approximation, but to establish that we should have to 
believe in the concordances in the Pyramids which have been con- 
tested, whereas we actually possess the Maya calendar. 

Other analogies with Egypt are discernible in the admirable art 
of the Mayas. Their mural paintings and frescoes and decorated 
vases show a race of men with strongly marked Semitic features, 
engaged in all sorts of activities: agriculture, fishing, building, poli- 
tics, and religion. Egypt alone has depicted these activities with the 
same cruel verisimilitude; but the pottery of the Mayas recalls that 
of the Etruscans; their bas-reliefs remind one of India, and the huge, 
steep stairways of their pyramidal temples are like those at Angkor. 
Unless they obtained their models from outside, their brains must 
have been so constructed that they adopted the same forms of artistic 
expression as all the other great ancient civilizations of Europe and 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


14 7 


Asia. Did civilization, then, spring from one particular geographi- 
cal region and then spread gradually in every direction like a forest 
fire? Or did it appear spontaneously and separately in various parts 
of the world? Were some races the teachers and others the pupils, or 
were they all self-taught? Isolated seeds, or one parent srem giving 
off shoots in every direction? 

We do not know, and we have no satisfactory explanation of the ori- 
gins of civilizations such as these — nor of the ways in which they came to 
an end. According to Bolivian legends recorded in her book on Bolivia by 
Mme. Cynthia Fain, the civilizations of antiquity collapsed after a strug- 
gle with a ndnhuman race whose blood was not red. . . . 

The high plateaus of Bolivia and Peru give an impression of being on 
another planet. This is not the Earth, but Mars. The oxygen pressure is 
50 percent less than at sea level, and yet there are people living there at an 
altitude of 11,483 feet. They have two or three more pints of blood than 
we have, eight million red corpuscles instead of five million, and their 
hearts beat more slowly. The radiocarbon methods of dating reveal the 
presence of human beings here nine thousand years ago. Certain recent 
calculations suggest that there may have been human life here thirty 
thousand years ago. It is therefore by no means inconceivable that human 
beings, skilled in metalworking and possessing observatories and scientific 
knowledge, may have built these giant cities thirty thousand years ago. 
Under whose guidance? 

Some of the irrigation works carried out by the pre-Inca peoples could 
hardly be done today by our electric turbodrills. And why did men, before 
the invention of the wheel, construct enormous paved roads? 

The American archaeologist Hyatt Verrill devoted thirty years of 
research to the lost civilizations of Central and South America. In his 
opinion, these ancient peoples did not use in their great building opera- 
tions tools for cutting stone, but a kind of radioactive paste which ate into 
the granite; a sort of etching, in fact, on the scale of the great Pyramids. 
This radioactive paste, handed down from still more ancient times, Verrill 
claims to have seen in the hands of the last surviving sorcerers. In his 



14 8 


PART ONE 


fine novel, The Bridge of Light, he describes a pre-Inca city that can be 
approached only over a "bridge of light,” a bridge of ionized matter that 
appears and disappears at will, and provides a passage over a rocky gorge 
that is otherwise inaccessible. Up to the end ofhis life (he died at the age 
of eighty-four) Verrill maintained that his book was much more than a 
legend, and his wife, who survived him, still made this claim. 

What do the figures at Nazca signify? I refer to the immense geomet- 
rical designs traced in the plain of Nazca, which can only be seen from 
a plane or a balloon, and which have only recently been discovered, as a 
result of aeronautical exploration. 

Professor Mason, who, unlike Verrill, can hardly be suspected of fan- 
tasy, is at a loss to know what to suggest. The builders could only have 
been guided by some sort of machine floating in the sky? 

Mason rejects this hypothesis, and imagines that these figures were 
constructed by using a small-scale model or a stenciled plan. Given the 
level of technique of the pre-Incas, as allowed by classical archaeologists, 
this seems even more improbable. And what was the purpose of these 
tracings? Had they a religious significance? That is always the stock 
explanation — a reference to an unknown religion. People are always 
more ready to suppose all kinds of strange beliefs rather than admit the 
possibility of other levels of consciousness and techniques. It is a ques- 
tion of priority: the knowledge we possess today is the only knowledge 
we recognize. Photographs taken of the plain of Nazca remind one irre- 
sistibly of the ground-lighting of an airfield. Sons of the Sun, coming 
from the sky. . . . Professor Mason is careful not to see any connection 
with these legends, and has imagined a kind of religion of trigonometry, 
which must be unique in the history of religious beliefs. Nevertheless, 
a little later he refers to the pre-Inca mythology according to which the 
stars are inhabited and the gods have come down from the constellation 
of the Pleiades. 

We do not reject the possibility of visits from the inhabitants of 
another world, or of atomic civilizations that vanished without leaving 
a trace, or of stages of knowledge and techniques comparable to those of 
today, or of remnants of forgotten sciences surviving in various forms of 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


149 


what is known as esoterism, or of factual evidence of what we might call 
magic. We do not mean that we believe everything, but we shall show in 
the next chapter that the field of the humane sciences is probably much 
vaster than is believed. By integrating all facts and excluding none, and 
being willing to consider all the hypotheses suggested by those facts, 
without any kind of a priorism, a Darwin or a Copernicus of anthropol- 
ogy will create a completely new science, provided they also establish a 
constant connection between the objective observation of the past and 
the latest developments in parapsychology, physics, chemistry, and math- 
ematics. They will then, perhaps, perceive that the idea of the evolution 
of intelligence being always slow, and the road to knowledge always long, 
is not, perhaps, the truth, but rather a taboo that we have set up in order 
that we may believe ourselves today to be enjoying the benefits of the 
whole history of mankind. 

Why should not the civilizations of the past have experienced sud- 
den periods of enlightenment during which the quasitotality of all human 
knowledge was revealed to them? Is there any reason why the moments of 
illumination, of blinding intuition, and the sudden explosion of genius 
that occur in the life of a man should not have occurred several times 
in the life of the human race? Are we not suggesting an entirely false 
interpretation of such evidence of these moments as has come down to us 
by talking of mythology, legends, and magic? If I am shown an unfaked 
photograph of a man floating in the air, I do not say: That represents 
the myth of Icarus, but: That is a snapshot of a high jump or a man div- 
ing. Why should there not be similar instantaneous states in the life of 
civilizations? 

We shall be citing other facts, establishing other connections, and 
formulating other hypotheses in due course. Our book, we repeat, will 
doubtless contain a lot of nonsense, but that is of no importance if it 
inspires some readers with a sense of vocation and, to a certain extent, 
opens up new and wider paths for research. 

We authors are only a couple of poor stonebreakers; others will follow 


and make the road. 



ISO 


PART ONE 



Memory older than us — Metallic birds — A strange map of the world — 
Atomic bombardments and interplanetary vessels in "sacred texts" — A new 
view of machines — The cult of the cargo — Another vision of esoterism — 
The rites of the intelligence 


During the last ten years the exploration of the past has been facilitated by 
the discovery of new methods based on radioactivity and by the progress 
of cosmology. As a result, two extraordinary facts have been established:* 

1. The Earth is as old as the Universe: some 4,500 million years. It 
was probably formed at the same time as, and perhaps before, the 
Sun. by the condensation of particles at low temperature. 

2. Man as we know him. Homo sapiens, has existed for only some 
75.000 years. This short period saw the transition from prehis- 
toric man to man. Here we would like to ask two questions: 

a. In the course of these 75,000 years have there been other "tech- 
nical" civilizations before our own? The specialists, as one man, 
answer No. But it is by no means clear that they are able to dis- 
tinguish an instrument, or tool, from what is called an object of 
worship. In this field, research has not even begun. Nevertheless, 
there are some disquieting problems to examine. Most paleontol- 
ogists consider eoliths (stones discovered near Orleans in 1867) to 
be natural objects. Some, however, believe them to be man-made. 
But by what kind of man? Not Homo sapiens. Other objects have 
been found at Ipswich, in Suffolk, which are believed to indicate 
the existence in Western Europe of "tertiary” man. 

b. The experiments of Washburn and Dice prove that the evo- 
lution of man may have been brought about by quite trivial 
modifications. For example: a slight alteration in the bones of 
the skull. 


*Dr. Bowen, The Exploration of Time, London, 1 9 5 8. 

tTo prove the correctness of his theory, Washburn changed the skull formation of rats 
from a "Neanderthaloid" to a "modern" shape. 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 151 

Thus, a single mutation, and not, as had hitherto been believed, a 
complex combination of mutations, would have been enough to effect the 
transition from prehistoric Man to modern Man. 

Only one mutation in 4,500 million years? It is possible, but why 
should it be a certainty? Why should there not have been several evolu- 
tionary cycles before this period of seventy-five thousand years? It may be 
that other forms of humanity, or rather other thinking beings, made their 
appearance and disappeared. They may not have left visible traces, but their 
memory is preserved in legends. "The bust outlives the city": their memory 
may be perpetuated in powerhouses, and machines, monuments to their 
vanished civilizations. Our memory perhaps goes back much farther than 
our own existence, or even than the existence of our species. What records 
of an infinitely remote past may not be dissimulated in our genes and chro- 
mosomes? "D'oil te vient ceci, ame de I'homme, d'oii te vient ceci?" (From 
where did you come, soul of man, from where did you come?) 

In archaeology big changes have already taken place. Our civilization has 
speeded up communications, and observations carried out all over the 
globe and then collected and compared bring us to the brink of great 
mysteries. In lune 1953 the Smithsonian Institute published the results 
obtained by American, Indian, and Russian archaeologists.* In the course 
of excavations carried out in Mongolia, Scandinavia, Ceylon, near Lake 
Baikal, and in the upper reaches of the Lena in Siberia, similar objects in 
bone and stone were discovered as those found among the Eskimos. 

Now the techniques required for the manufacture of these objects 
do not exist among the Eskimos. The Smithsonian Institute therefore 
deduced that ten thousand years ago the Eskimos inhabited Central Asia, 
Ceylon, and Mongolia. Later it is assumed that they suddenly emigrated 
to Greenland. But why? What caused these primitive peoples to decide, 
all at the same time, to leave these countries and settle in this inhospitable 
corner of the globe? And how did they get there? To this day they do not 
know that the Earth is round, and have no idea of geography. And why 


"New York Herald Tribune, June 11, 1958. 



15 2 


PART ONE 


should they have left Ceylon, that earthly paradise? The Institute does 
not attempt to answer these questions. 

We do not wish to impose our own theory, and only propose it as a 
kind of exercise in open-mindedness: Ten thousand years ago an enlight- 
ened civilization controlled the world. It set up in the Frozen North — a 
zone of deportation. Now what do we find in Eskimo folklore? References 
to tribes being transported to the Frozen North at the beginning of time 
by giant metallic birds. Nineteenth-century archaeologists have always 
scoffed at these "metallic birds." And what do we think? 

No work on objects of a more clearly defined character has as yet been 
done comparable to that accomplished by the Smithsonian Institute. On 
lenses, for example. Optical lenses have been found in Iraq and Central 
Australia. The question is: do they come from the same source, the same 
civilization? No modern optician has yet been asked to give an opinion. 
All optical glasses for the last twenty years, in our civilization, have been 
polished with ceria. In a thousand years from now spectroscopic analysis 
will prove, from an analysis of these glasses, the existence of a single civi- 
lization all over the world. And that will be the truth. 

A new vision of the ancient world might result from studies of this 
nature. We can only hope that our book, in spite ofbeing lightweight and 
poorly documented, may inspire some still naive young person to embark 
on a crazy enterprise which will one day provide the key to the wisdom 
of the past. 

There are still other facts to be noted. 

Over vast areas in the Gobi desert patches of vitrified soil have been 
observed similar to those produced by an atomic explosion. 

In the caves ofBohistan inscriptions have been found, accompanied 
by astronomical maps showing the stars in the positions they occupied 
thirteen thousand years ago. Lines connect Venus with the Earth. 

In the middle of the nineteenth century a Turkish naval officer, Piri 
Reis, presented the Library of Congress with a set of maps which he had 
discovered in the East. The most recent date from the time of Christopher 
Columbus; the oldest from the first century AD, the former having been 
copied from the latter. In 1952 Arlington H. Mallery, a well-known expert 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 1S3 

in cartography, examined these documents.* He noticed, for example, that 
everything that exists in the Mediterranean had been recorded, but not in 
the right relationship. Did these people think the Earth was flat? This is 
not a sufficient explanation. Did they use the projection method in draw- 
ing up their maps, taking into account the fact that the Earth is round? 
Impossible; projective geometry dates from the time ofMonge. Mallery 
then entrusted the study of these maps to an official cartographer, Walters, 
who compared them with a modern globe map of the World, and found 
that they were all correct, not only for the Mediterranean, but for all the 
countries of the world, including the two Americas and the Antarctic. In 
1955 Mallory and Walters submitted their work to the Geophysical Year 
Committee. The Committee passed the file to the Jesuit Father Daniel 
Lineham, director of the Weston Observatory and in charge of the carto- 
graphical department of the American Navy. Father Lineham confirmed 
that the contours of North America, the location of the lakes and moun- 
tains of Canada, the coastal outline of the extreme north of the continent 
and the contours of the Antarctic (covered with ice and distinguishable 
only with the greatest difficulty by our modern instruments of measure- 
ment) were all correct. Were these copies of still earlier maps? Had they 
been traced from observations made on board a flying machine or space 
vessel of some kind? Notes taken by visitors from Beyond? 

We shall doubtless be criticized for asking these questions. Yet the 
Popul Vuh, the sacred Book of the Quiches of America speaks of an infi- 
nitely ancient civilization which knew about the nebulae and the whole 
solar system. This is what we read; "The first race of men were capable of 
all knowledge. They examined the four corners of the horizon, the four 
(cardinal) points of the firmament, and the round surface of the Earth." 

Some of the beliefs and legends bequeathed to us by Antiquity are so 
universally and firmly established that we have become accustomed 
to consider them as being almost as ancient as humanity itself. 


*A11 this was the subject of a debate at Georgetown University in December 1958. See 
the study by Ivan T. Sanderson in Fantastic Universe, January 1959. 



15 4 


PART ONE 


Nevertheless we are tempted to inquire how far the fact that some 
of these beliefs and legends have so many features in common is due 
to chance, and whether the similarity between them may not point 
to the existence of an ancient, totally unknown and unsuspected 
civilization of which all other traces have disappeared. 

The man who, in 1910, wrote these lines was neither a writer of sci- 
ence fiction nor some vague dabbler in the occult. He was one of the 
pioneers of science. Professor Frederick Soddy, Nobel Prize winner and 
the discoverer of isotopes and of the laws of transformation in natural 
radioactivity.* 

The University of Oklahoma in 1954 published some records of Indian 
tribes in Guatemala dating from the sixteenth century. These contained 
fantastic accounts of apparitions of legendary beings and imaginary 
descriptions of the private life of their gods. On closer examination it 
became clear that the Indians were not just spinning yarns, but referring in 
their own way to their first contacts with the Spanish invaders, whom the 
Indian "historians" looked upon as beings of the same order as those that 
figured in their own mythology. In this way reality is disguised as legend. 
Indeed, it is highly probable that texts considered as belonging purely to 
folklore or mythology may be based on actual facts that have been wrongly 
interpreted and integrated with others, which are, in fact, imaginary. All 
this has not yet been sorted out, with the result that while the shelves of 
our specialized libraries are loaded with a whole literature labeled "legend," 
no one has ever thought for a moment that this label may conceal pictur- 
esquely presented accounts of events that actually happened. 

And yet. with our knowledge of modern science and techniques, we 
ought to examine this literature with an unprejudiced eye. 

The book ofDzyan speaks of "superior beings of dazzling aspect" who 
abandoned the Earth, depriving the impure human race of its knowledge. 


'Professor at Oxford University, Fellow of the Royal Society. The passage is taken from 
his book Radium. 



THE VANISHED CIVILIZATIONS 


15 5 

and effacing by disintegration all traces of their passage. They departed 
in flying chariots, propelled by light, to rejoin their land "of iron and 
metal.” 

In a recent study published in the Literaturnaya Gazeta (1959), 
Professor Agrest, who accepts the hypothesis of the Earth having been 
visited long ago by interplanetary travelers, relates his discovery among 
the first texts introduced into the Bible by Jewish priests of references 
to beings from another world who, like Enoch, disappeared into the 
heavens in mysterious arklike vessels. The sacred Hindu texts, such as 
the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, contain descriptions of airships 
appearing in the sky at the very beginning of time and looking like 
"bluish clouds in the shape of an egg or a luminous globe.” 

They could encircle the Earth several times, and were propelled by 
"an ethereal force which struck the ground as they rose," or by "a vibra- 
tion produced by an invisible force." They emitted "sweet and melodious 
sounds," and "a shining light as bright as fire," and their trajectory was 
not straight, but appeared "to follow a long and undulating course bring- 
ing them alternately nearer to and farther from the Earth." The material 
of which these engines were composed is defined in these texts, more than 
three thousand years old and doubtless based on memories going back 
infinitely farther into the past, as being a blend of several metals, some 
white and light, others red. 

In the Mausola Purva we find this singular description, which must 
have been incomprehensible to nineteenth-century ethnologists though 
not to us today: 

... it was an unknown weapon, an iron thunderbolt, a gigantic mes- 
senger of death, which reduced to ashes the entire race of the Vrishnis 
and the Andhakas. The corpses were so burned as to be unrecogniz- 
able. Their hair and nails fell out; pottery broke without any apparent 
cause, and the birds turned white. After a few hours, all foodstuffs 
were infected. The thunderbolt was reduced to a fine dust. 


And again: 



156 


PART ONE 


Cukra, flying on board a high-powered vimana, hurled on to the 
triple city a single projectile charged with all the power of the 
Universe. An incandescent column of smoke and flame, as bright 
as ten thousand Suns, rose in all its splendor. . . . When the vimana 
returned to Earth, it looked like a splendid block of antinomy rest- 
ing on the ground 

Objection: if you admit the existence of such fabulously advanced 
civilizations, how do you explain the fact that the innumerable excava- 
tions that have been carried out all over the globe have never brought to 
light a single fragment of any object that could induce us to believe in 
such civilizations? Answer: 

1. Systematic archaeological exploration has been going on for little 
more than a century, whereas our atomic civilization is barely 
twenty years old. No serious exploration has been carried out in 
South Russia, China, or in Central and South Africa. Vast areas 
still preserve the secrets of their past. 

2. If a German engineer, Wilhelm Konig, had not paid a chance visit 
to the Museum at Baghdad, it might never have been discovered 
that some flat stones found in Iraq, and classified as such, were in 
reality electric batteries that had been in use two thousand years 
before Galvani. The archaeological museums are full of objects 
classified as "objects of worship," or "various," about which noth- 
ing is known. 

The Russians recently discovered in some caves in the Gobi desert 
and in Turkestan semicircular objects made of ceramics or glass ending in 
a cone containing a drop ofmercury. What could these have been? Finally, 
few archaeologists have any scientific or technical knowledge. Still fewer 
are capable of realizing that a technical problem can be solved in several 
different ways, and that there are machines that do not resemble what 
we call machines — without crankshafts, drive r 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN . . 


357 


mysticism, but also to problems of technique and practical knowledge, it 
is perfectly natural, rational, and reasonable to admit that they may have 
been able to work "miracles," even with the simplest apparatus.* 

Jorge Luis Borges relates that once upon a time there was a wise man who 
devoted his whole life to seeking, among the innumerable signs in Nature, 
the ineffable name of God, the key to the Great Secret. After a life of trib- 
ulations. he was arrested on the orders of a Prince, and condemned to be 
devoured by a panther. While waiting in the cell into which he had been 
thrown, he observed through the bars the wild beast who was waiting to 
devour him. Gazing at the spots on its skin, he discovered in the pattern 
and rhythm of the design the number, the Name that he had been seeking 


'Although the majority of archaeologists categorically deny the existence in the past of 
advanced civilizations with powerful material means at their disposal, the possibility of 
the existence at every epoch of a small percentage of "awakened" beings utilizing natural 
forces with improvised means, can scarcely be denied. We even believe that a methodical 
examination of archaeological and historical data would confirm this hypothesis. How 
could this "awakening" have started? Of course it is possible to imagine interventions 
from "Beyond": alternatively one may seek a purely materialist and rationalist explana- 
tion. This is what we would suggest. Physicists dealing with cosmic rays have recently 
discovered what they call exttaordinary "events." In cosmic physics, an "event" is the 
collusion between a particle from spare and terrestrial matter. In 1957, as we stated in 
our study of alchemy, scientists detected an exceptional particle of fantastic energy (an 
energy of 10 18 electron volts, whereas the fission of uranium produces only 2 x 10 ). Let 
us assume that only once in the history of the human race, such a particle came into con- 
tact with a human brain. Who knows if the enormous energy resulting therefrom might 
not have produced an activation inducing for the first time an "awakened" state in Man? 
This Man might have discovered and might have applied techniques for inducing this 
"awakened state." In various forms these techniques may have been preserved down to 
our times, and the alchemists' Great Work, the Initiation, could be something more than 
a legend. Our hypothesis is, of course, only a hypothesis. It would be difficult to test it 
experimentally, for it is impossible even to imagine an artificial accelerator producing 
such a fabulous and fantastic amount of energy. All we can do is to recall that the great 
English scientist, Sit James Jeans, once wrote: "It was pethaps cosmic radiation, which 
turned the Monkey into Man." (cf. The Mysterious Universe.) We are now only catrying 
on these ideas, with modern data at our disposal, which Sir James Jeans did not have and 
which enable us to state: "It was perhaps exceptional cosmic 'events' releasing fantastic 
energy, which turned Man into super-Man." 



3 S 8 


PART THREE 


for so long and in so many places. He knew then why he had to die, and 
that he could die only after his great wish had been fulfilled — and that 
would not be death. 

The Universe devours us, or else it yields up its secrets to us; that 
depends on whether or not we know how to observe it. It is highly prob- 
able that the most subtle and profound laws of life and of the destiny of 
all created things are clearly inscribed on the material world by which we 
are encompassed; that God has left his handwriting everywhere, as the 
wise man discovered on the panther's skin; and that we only have to look 
at things in a certain way. The man who can do this is the "awakened" 
man.. .. 


V ill Some Documents on the "Awakened State": Wanted: an anthology — 
The sayings of Gurdjieff- — When I was at the schoolfor "awakening " — 
Raymond Ahellio's story — A striking extract from the works ofGustav 
Meyrinck, a neglected genius 

If there is such a thing as an "awakened state," there is a chapter missing 
in the history of psychology. Here follow four documents, all contempo- 
rary. We have not selected them specially, not having had time to make 
a thorough investigation. There is room for an anthology of testimonies 
and studies on the "awakened" state. 

It would be most useful, as it would put us in touch again with tradi- 
tion, and show how essential values have been preserved in our century; 
it might also indicate new paths that could be followed in the future. 
Writers would find in it a key; to natural scientists it would be a source 
of stimulation; intellectuals everywhere would find in it the thread that 
runs through all the great adventures of the mind, and would feel less 
isolated. It goes without saying that in assembling these documents 
which lay ready to hand we are making no such far-reaching claims. 

We wish only to give some brief examples of a possible psychological 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 5 9 


approach to the question of the "awakened state" in its elementary forms. 
These consist of: 

1. Extracts from the sayings of Georg Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, recorded 
by the philosopher Ouspensky; 

2. My own account of the attempts I made to enter the path of the 
"awakened state" under the guidance of instructors of the Gurdjieff 
school; 

3. The story of a personal experience, by the writer and philosopher 
Raymond Abellio; 

4. The finest of all documents, in our opinion, in the whole of 
modern literature dealing with this subject; an extract from a 
little known novel by the German poet and philosopher Gustav 
Meyrinck. whose works rise to the highest peaks of mystical 
intuition. 


1. SOME SAYINGS OF GURDJIEFF 
"In order to understand what the difference between states of conscious- 
ness is, let us return to the first state of consciousness, which is sleep. This 
is an entirely subjective state of consciousness. A man is immersed in 
dreams, whether he remembers them or not does not matter. Even if some 
real impressions reach him, such as sounds, voices, warmth, cold, the sen- 
sation of his own body, they arouse in him only fantastic subjective 
images. Then a man wakes up. At first glance this is a quite different state 
of consciousness. He can move, he can talk with other people, he can 
make calculations ahead, he can see danger and avoid it, and so on. It 
stands to reason that he is in a better position than when he was asleep. 
But if we go a little more deeply into things, if we take a look into his 
inner world, into his thoughts, into the causes of his actions, we shall see 
that he is in almost the same state as when he is asleep. And it is even 
worse, because in sleep he is passive, that is, he cannot do anything. In the 
waking state, however, he can do something all the time and the results 
of all his actions will be reflected upon him or upon those around him. 
And yet he does not remember himself. He is a machine, everything with 



3 6 0 


PART THREE 


him happens. He cannot stop the flow of his thoughts, he cannot con- 
trol his imagination, his emotions, his attention. He lives in a subjective 
world ofT love,' T do not love,' 'I like,' 'I do not like,' 'I want,' 1 do not 
want,' that is, of what he thinks he likes, of what he thinks he does not 
like, of what he thinks he wants, of what he thinks he does not want. He 
does not see the real world. The real world is hidden from him by the wall 
of imagination. He lives in sleep. He is asleep. What is called 'clear 
consciousness' is sleep and a far more dangerous sleep than sleep at night 
in bed. 

"Let us take some event in the life of humanity. For instance, war. 
There is war going on at the present moment. What does it signify? It sig- 
nifies that several millions of sleeping people are trying to destroy several 
millions of other sleeping people. They would not do this, of course, if they 
were to wake up. Everything that takes place is owing to this sleep. 

"Both states of consciousness, sleep and the waking state, are equally 
subjective. Only by beginning to remember himself does a Man really 
awaken. And then all surrounding life acquires for him a different aspect 
and a different meaning. He sees that it is the life of sleeping people, a 
life in sleep. All that men say, all that they do, they say and do in sleep. 
All this can have no value whatever. Only awakening and what leads to 
awakening has a value in reality. 

"How many times have I been asked here whether wars can be 
stopped? Certainly they can. For this it is only necessary that people 
should awaken. It seems a small thing. It is. however, the most difficult 
thing there can be because this sleep is induced and maintained by the 
whole of surrounding life, by all surrounding conditions. 

"How can one awaken? How can one escape this sleep? These ques- 
tions are the most important, the most vital that can ever confront a 
man. But before this it is necessary to be convinced of the very fact of 
sleep. But it is possible to be convinced of this only by trying to awaken. 
When a man understands that he does not remember himself and that 
to remember himself means to awaken to some extent, and when at the 
same time he sees by experience how difficult it is to remember himself, 
he will understand that he cannot awaken simply by having the desire 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 6 1 


to do so. It can be said still more precisely that a man cannot awaken by 
himself. But if. let us say, twenty people make an agreement that who- 
ever of them awakens first shall wake the rest, they already have some 
chance. Even this, however, is insufficient because all the twenty can go 
to sleep at the same time and dream that they are waking up. Therefore 
more still is necessary. They must be looked after by a man who is not 
asleep or who does not fall asleep as easily as they do, or who goes to 
sleep consciously when this is possible, when it will do no harm either to 
himself or to others. They must find such a man and hire him to wake 
them and not allow them to fall asleep again. Without this it is impos- 
sible to awaken. This is what must be understood. 

"It is possible to think for a thousand years; it is possible to write 
whole libraries ofbooks, to create theories, by the million, and all this in 
sleep, without any possibility of awakening. On the contrary, these books 
and these theories, written and created in sleep, will merely send other 
people to sleep, and so on. 

"There is nothing new in the idea of sleep. People have been told 
almost since the creation of the world that they are asleep and that they 
must awaken. How many times is this said in the Gospels, for instance? 
'Awake,' 'watch,' 'sleep not.' Christ's disciples even slept when he was 
praying in the Garden of Gethsemane for the last time. It is all there. 
But do men understand it? Men take it simply as a form of speech, as 
an expression, as a metaphor. They completely fail to understand that it 
must be taken literally. And again it is easy to understand why. In order to 
understand this literally it is necessary to awaken a little, or at least to try 
and awaken. I tell you seriously that I have been asked several times why 
nothing is said about sleep in the Gospels. Although it is there spoken of 
almost on every page. This simply shows that people read the Gospels in 
sleep. 

"Speaking in general, what is necessary to awake a sleeping man? A 
good shock is necessary. But when a man is fast asleep one shock is not 
enough. A long period of continual shocks is needed. Consequently there 
must be somebody to administer these shocks. I have said before that if a 
man wants to awaken he must hire somebody who will keep on shaking 



3 6 2 


PART THREE 


him for a long time. But whom can he hire if everyone is asleep? A man 
will hire somebody to wake him up but this one also falls asleep. What is 
the use of such a man? And a man who can really keep awake-wili prob- 
ably refuse to waste his time in waking others up: he may have his own 
much more important work to do. 

"There is also the possibility of being awakened by mechanical means. 
A man may be awakened by an alarm clock. But the trouble is that a man 
gets accustomed to the alarm clock far too quickly, he ceases to hear it. 
Many alarm clocks are necessary and always new ones. Otherwise a man 
must surround himself with alarm clocks, which will prevent him sleep- 
ing. But here again there are certain difficulties. Alarm clocks must be 
wound up, in order to wind them up one must remember about them: in 
order to remember one must wake up often. But what is still worse, a man 
gets used to all alarm clocks and after a certain time he only sleeps the 
better for them. Therefore alarm clocks must be constantly changed, new 
ones must be continually invented. In the course of time this may help a 
man to awaken. But there is very little chance of a man doing all the work 
of winding up, inventing, and changing clocks all by himself, without 
outside help. It is much more likely that he will begin his work and that 
it will afterwards pass into sleep, and in sleep he will dream of inventing 
alarm clocks, of winding them up, and changing them, and simply sleep 
all the sounder for it. 

"Therefore, in order to awaken, a combination of efforts is needed. It 
is necessary that somebody should wake the man up; it is necessary that 
somebody should look after the man who wakes him; it is necessary to 
have alarm clocks and it is also necessary continually to invent new alarm 
clocks. 

"But in order to achieve all this and to obtain results a certain num- 
ber of people must work together. 

"One man can do nothing. 

"Before anything else he needs help. But help cannot come to one man 
alone. Those who are able to help put a great value on their time. And. of 
course, they would prefer to help, say, twenty or thirty people who want 
to awake rather than one man. Moreover, as has been said earlier, one 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 6 3 


man can easily deceive himself about his awakening and take for awak- 
ening simply a new dream. If several people decide to struggle together 
against sleep, they will wake each other. It may often happen that twenty 
of them will sleep but the twenty-first will be awake and he will wake 
up the rest. It is exactly the same thing with alarm clocks. One man will 
invent one alarm clock, another man will invent another, afterwards they 
can make an exchange. Altogether they can be of very great help one to 
another, and without this help no one can attain anything. 

"Therefore a man who wants to awake must look for other people 
who also want to awake and work together with them. This, however, 
is easier said than done because to start such work and to organize it 
requires a knowledge, which an ordinary man cannot possess. The work 
must be organized and it must have a leader. Only then can it produce 
the results expected of it. Without these conditions no efforts can result 
in anything whatever. Men may torture themselves but these tortures 
will not make them awake. This is the most difficult of all for certain 
people to understand. By themselves and on their own initiative they 
may be capable of great efforts and great sacrifices. But because their 
first effort and their first sacrifice ought to be obedience nothing on 
Earth will induce them to obey another. And they do not want to rec- 
oncile themselves to the thought that all their efforts and all their sac- 
rifices are useless. 

"Work must be organized. And it can be organized only by a man 
who knows its problems and its aims, who knows its methods; by a man 
who has in his time passed through such organized work himself." 

2. MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH 
THE GURDJIEFF SCHOOL 

"Take a watch," we were told, "and look at the big hand while trying to 
remain conscious of yourself and concentrate on the thought: T am Louis 
Pauwels, and I am here now, at this moment.' Try to think of nothing else 
but that; simply follow the movement of the big hand and go on being 
conscious of yourself, your name, your existence, and the place where you 
are now." 



3 6 4 


PART THREE 


At first this seemed simple, and rather ridiculous. Of couse I could 
concentrate on the idea' that my name was Louis Pauwels and that I was 
there, at that moment, watching the big hand of my watch moving slowly 
around. Soon I had to admit that this idea did not remain stable within 
me for long; it began to take on a thousand shapes and to flow about in 
every direction, like those objects that Dali paints in mud. But I had to 
remember, too, that I had not been asked to keep alive and fixed in my 
mind an idea, but a perception. I had not only to think that I existed, but 
to know it and to have an absolute knowledge of that fact. I felt that that 
would be possible, and that it could happen in me and bring me some- 
thing new and important. I discovered, however, that I was perpetually 
being distracted by a thousand more or less vague thoughts, sensations, 
images, and associations of ideas that had nothing to do with the object 
of my efforts, and indeed prevented me from pursuing it. Sometimes it 
was the watch hand that absorbed all my attention, and while gazing at 
it I lost sight of myself. Sometimes it was my body — a twitching muscle 
in my leg, a sensation in my stomach — that took my attention away from 
both the watch and myself. Sometimes, again, I thought I had closed 
down my little internal cinema and eliminated the external world; but I 
soon found then that I had sunk into a kind of sleep in which the watch 
hand as well as myself had disappeared, while images, sensations, and 
ideas continued to be mixed up in my mind behind a kind of veil, as if in 
a dream unfolding itself independently of me while I slept. Sometimes, for 
a fraction of a second, while looking at the watch hand, I was totally and 
completely conscious that I was I. But in the same fraction of a second, I 
was congratulating myself on having achieved this state; my mind, so to 
speak, was applauding, whereupon my intelligence, by expressing satisfac- 
tion at my success, ruined it irremediably. Finally, disappointed, but above 
all thoroughly exhausted, I gave up the experiment, because it seemed to 
me that I had just been through the most difficult few minutes in the 
whole of my existence and deprived of air to a degree that had taxed my 
endurance to its extreme limits. Flow interminable it had seemed! And 
yet it had lasted scarcely more than a couple of minutes; and in those 
two minutes I had only had a real perception of myself in three or four 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 6 5 


imperceptible flashes. I was then forced to admit that we are practically 
never conscious of ourselves, and that we are hardly ever conscious of the 
difficulty of being conscious. 

The state of consciousness, we were told, is at first the state of a Man 
who, having at last discovered that he is hardly ever conscious then begins 
gradually to learn what, in himself, are the obstacles to what he is trying 
to do. In the light of this little experiment one knows now that a Man 
may, for example, read a book, approve or be bored by it, protest or be 
enthusiastic, without ever being conscious for a moment of the fact that 
he himself "is" and that consequently nothing of what he has read has 
really impinged on the Man he "is." His reading is another dream added 
to his own dreams — a flux in the perpetual flux of the unconscious. For 
our real consciousness may be — and almost always is — completely absent 
from everything we do, think, desire, or imagine. 

I understood then that there is very little difference between our 
normal waking and sleeping states. Our dreams when we are awake have 
become invisible, as it were, like the stars in daytime; but they are still 
there, and we continue to live under their influence. We have merely 
acquired on waking a critical attitude toward our own sensations; our 
thoughts are better coordinated, our actions more controlled, our impres- 
sions, sensations, and desires more lively; but we are still in a state of non- 
consciousness. We are not now discussing the real "awakened state" but 
what could be called a "waking sleep"; and it is in that state that we spend 
practically the whole of our lives. We were taught that it is possible to 
become completely awake, and to be conscious of oneself. In this state, as 
I discovered during the experiment with the watch, I was able to have an 
objective knowledge of my thoughts and of a succession of images, ideas, 
sensations, sentiments, and desires. While in that state, I could try to make 
a real effort to examine and even halt from time to time, or change this floss 
of sensations. And the very fact of making this effort, so I was told, created 
in me a certain subsistence, it did not actually result in anything definite. 
The mere fact of its having been made was enough to call into being and 
accumulate in me the very substance of my being. I was assured that I 
could then, having a fixed "being," acquire an "objective consciousness" 



3 6 6 


PART THREE 


and that I would then be in a state to have a completely objective and 
total knowledge not only of myself, but of other men and things and of 
the whole world.* 


3. RAYMOND ABELLIO'S STORY 
When in the "natural" attitude, which is that of all normal existing beings, 
I "see" a house, my perception is spontaneous, and it is that house that I 
see, and not my own perception of it. On the other hand, if my attitude 
is "transcendental," then it is my perception itself, which is perceived. But 
this perception of a perception radically changes my primitive approach. The 
state of actually experiencing something, uncomplicated to begin with, loses 
its spontaneity from the very fact that the new contemplation has for its 
object something that was originally a state, and not an object, and that 
the elements which make up my new perception include not only those 
pertaining to the house "as such," but those pertaining to the perception 
itself, considered as an actually experienced flux. And an essentially impor- 
tant feature of this "alteration" is that the concomitant vision I had, in 
this bi-reflexible, or rather "reflective-reflexible" state ("e'tat bi-reflexif on 
plutot reflechi-reflexif) of the house that was my original "motif," so far 
from being lost, displaced, or blurred by this interposition of "my" second 
perception in front of "its" original perception, is, paradoxically, intensi- 
fied, becoming clearer, more "actual," and charged with more objective reality 
than before. We are here confronted with a fact that cannot be accounted 
for by pure speculative analysis: namely, the transfiguration of the thing as 
consciously experienced, its transformation, as we shall call it later, into a 
"super-thing,” its passage from being something "known about” to some- 
thing "known." This fact is insufficiently appreciated although it is the 
most remarkable in the phenomenological experimentation. All the diffi- 
culties met with in ordinary phenomenology and. indeed, in all the classic 
theories of knowledge, stem from the fact that they consider the duality 
consciousness — knowledge (or more precisely, consciousness-science) as 
being self-sufficient and able to absorb the whole of experience; whereas 


"Extract from Monsieur Gurdjieff, Ed. du Seil, Paris, 1954. 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


367 


the triad knowledge-consciousness-science alone can provide a genuinely 
ontological foundation for phenomenology. Certainly, nothing can make 
this transfiguration apparent except the direct and personal experience of 
the phenomenologist himself. But no one can claim to have understood real 
transcendental phenomenology unless he has had this experience and been 
"illuminated" as a result. No one, not even the most subtle of dialecticians 
or the most cunning logician, who has not actually experienced this and 
has therefore not seen things-beneath-things, can do more than talk about 
phenomenology; he cannot actively participate in any phenomenological 
experience. Let us take a more precise example: 

As long as I can remember, I have always been able to recognize the 
colors blue, red, yellow. My eye saw them, and I had a latent knowledge 
of them. Certainly "my eye" did not ask itself any questions about them; 
how could it have? Its function is to see, not to see itself in the act of see- 
ing; but my brain itself was as if asleep; it was not in any sense the "eye of 
the eye," but merely a prolongation of that organ. And so I simply said, 
almost without thinking: that's a beautiful red — or a faded green — or a 
brilliant white. One day some years ago while walking among the vines 
in the Canton ofVaud overlooking the Lake of Geneva — one of the most 
beautiful sites in the world — so beautiful, in fact, and so vast that the 
"Ego" first expands at the sight of it, then dissolves and finally recovers 
and attains a state of exaltation — I had a most extraordinary experience. 
The ocher of the steeply descending slope, the blue of the lake, the violet 
of the mountains in Savoy, and in the distance the glistening glaciers of 
the Grand-Combin — all this I had seen a hundred times. I now knew for 
the first time that I had never looked at them. And yet, I had been living 
there for three months. It is true that, from the very first, this landscape 
had profoundly affected me; but it had only produced in me a vague feel- 
ing of exaltation. No doubt the "I" of the philosopher is stranger than 
any landscape. The poignant sensation of beauty we experience is only 
the "I" measuring and deriving strength there from the infinite distance 
that separates us from that beauty. But on that day, suddenly. I knew that 
it was I who was creating that landscape, and that without me it would 
not exist: "It is I who sees you, and who sees myself seeing you and in so 



3 6 8 


PART THREE 


doing creates you." This cry from the heart is the cry of the demiurge 
when creating "his" world. 

It is not only the suspension of an "old" world but the projection of a 
"new" one. And in that instant, indeed, the world was re-created. Never 
had I seen such colors. They were a hundred times more vivid, more deli- 
cately shaded, more "alive." I knew that I hadjust acquired a color sense — 
that I was seeing color for the first time, and that until then I had never 
really seen a picture or penetrated the world of painting. But I knew also 
that by this awakening of consciousness, this perception of my perception, 
I held the key to that world of transfiguration, which is not a mysterious 
subworld, but the true world from which we are banished by "Nature." 
This has nothing to do with attention. Transfiguration is complete; 
attention never is. Transfiguration knows itself in its positive sufficiency; 
attention aims at attaining some day such sufficiency. It cannot be said, of 
course, that attentiveness is empty. On the contrary, it craves fullness. But 
this craving is not fulfillment. When I returned to the village that day, 
the people I met were mostly "attentive" to their work; yet to me they all 
seemed to be walking in their sleep.* 


4. GUSTAV MEYRINCK 
The Green Face (Extract) 

The key that will make us masters of our inner nature has been rusty ever 
since the Flood. The secret is to be awake. To be awake is everything. 

Man is firmly convinced that he is awake; in reality, he is caught in 
a net of sleep and of dreams, which he has woven himself. The tighter 
the net. the heavier he sleeps. Those who are trapped in its meshes are 
the sleepers who walk through life like cattle being led to the slaughter- 
house, indifferent and without a thought in their heads. Seen through 
the meshes, the world appears to the dreamers like a piece of latticework; 
they only see misleading apertures, act accordingly, and are unaware that 
what they see are simply the crazy debris of an enormous whole. These 


'Raymond Abellio, Cahiers du Cercle d'Etudes Metaphysiques (Notebooks from the Soci- 
ety of Metaphysical Studies), privately published, 1954. 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 6 9 


dreamers are not, as you might perhaps think, dwellers in a world of fan- 
tasy and poets; they are the workers, the restless ones, consumed by a mad 
desire for action. They are like those beetles which laboriously climb all 
the way up a long pipe, only to plunge down into it again as soon as they 
have reached the top. They say they are awake, but what they think is life 
is really only a dream, every detail of which is fixed in advance and inde- 
pendent of their free will. 

There have been, and still are, a few men who have known that they were 
dreaming — pioneers who have advanced as far as the barrier behind which 
lies hidden the eternally awakened "I" — seers like Descartes, Schopenhauer, 
and Kant. But they did not possess the equipment necessary to capture the 
fortress, and their call to arms failed to awaken the sleepers. 

To be awake is everything. 

The first step toward this state is so simple that any child could take 
it. Only those who have been misled have forgotten how to walk, and stay 
paralyzed on their two feet because they do not want to throw away the 
crutches they have inherited from their predecessors. 

To be awake is everything. 

Keep awake whatever you are doing! Do not imagine that you are 
already awake. No; you are asleep and dreaming. 

Gather all your strength together, and fill your body for a moment 
with the feeling: Now I am awake! 

If you can do this, then you will at once perceive that the state in 
which you were before was merely one of somnolence. 

This is the first step on the long, long journey that leads from servi- 
tude to being all-powerful. 

Go on, then, advancing from one awakening to another. There are no 
tormenting thoughts that you cannot in this way get rid of. They will be 
left behind and will not be able to trouble you any more. You will be as 
high above them as the crown of a tall tree is above the withered branches 
below. 

Your pains will fall away from you like dead leaves from a tree when 
you feel your whole body is awake. 

The Brahmans' icy baths, the sleepless nights of the disciples of 



3 7 0 


PART THREE 


Buddha, and the Christian ascetics, the self-inflicted tortures of the 
Hindu fakirs are nothing other than the fixed rites which indicate that 
it was here that the temple of those who strove to stay awake originally 
stood. 

Read the sacred writings of all the peoples of the Earth. Through all 
of them runs, like a red thread, the hidden science of maintaining wake- 
fulness. It is the ladder of Jacob who fought all through the "night" with 
the angel of the Lord until the "day" broke and he was victorious. 

You must climb from one rung to another if you want to conquer 
death. 

The lowest rung is called: genius. 

What are we to call the higher ones? They are hidden from the mass 
of mankind and looked upon as legends. 

The story of Troy was thought to be a legend until one day a Man 
had the courage to start excavating by himself. 

The first enemy you will meet with on this road to wakefulness will 
be your own body. It will fight you until the first cock-crow. But if you can 
glimpse the dawn of eternal wakefulness, which will put a gulf between 
you and those somnambulists who think that they are men and who are 
unaware that they are gods asleep, then sleep will leave your body too, and 
the Universe will be at your feet. 

Then you will be able to work miracles, if you wish, and you will 
no longer be compelled, like a humble slave, to wait until a cruel false 
god is kind enough to shower gifts upon you. or to cut off your head. 

Naturally the happiness of a good and faithful dog — which is to serve 
a master — will no longer be yours; but be frank with yourself: would you, 
even now, want to change places with your dog? 

Do not be afraid that you may not be able to attain your goal in this 
life. He who has found the way always returns to this world with an inter- 
nal maturity that enables him to continue with his work. He is born a 
"genius." 

The path I am pointing out to you is strewn with strange happenings: 
dead people you have known will rise up and talk with you! These are 
only images! Luminous silhouettes will appear to you and give you their 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 7 1 


blessing. They are only images, forms conjured up by your body, which, 
under the influence of your newly transformed will, will die a magical 
death and become spirit, just as ice, when attacked by fire, dissolves in 
steam. 

When you have got rid of the corpse within you, only then will you 
be able to say: Now sleep has left me forever. 

Then will come to pass the miracle, which no Man can believe — 
because, deceived by their senses, they do not understand that matter and 
force are the same thing — the miracle that, even if you are buried, there 
will be no corpse in your coffin. 

Then only will you be able to distinguish between reality and appear- 
ance. Whoever you may meet can only be one of those who have preceded 
you on this road. 

All the others are shadows. 

Up to now you do not know if you are the happiest or the unhappiest 
of creatures. But fear not. Not one of those who have followed the path 
that leads to the waking state, even if he has lost his way, has ever been 
abandoned by his guides. 

I would like to give you a sign, which will enable you to recognize 
whether an apparition is reality, or only an image: if it approaches you, if 
your conscience is troubled, if the things of the external world are vague 
or disappear — then beware! The apparition is only a part of yourself. If 
you do not understand it, it is only a specter without substance, a thief 
who is robbing you of part of your life. 

Thieves who steal your soul's strength are worse than worldly 
thieves: They attract you like the will-of-the-wisps into the marshes of 
a false hope, only to abandon you in the darkness before disappearing 
forever. 

Do not allow yourself to be blinded by any miracle they may appear 
to perform for you, by any sacred name by which they may call them- 
selves, or by any prophecy they may utter — not even if it comes true; they 
are your mortal enemies, driven out from the inferno of your own body, 
against whom you are fighting for victory. 

Know that the marvelous strength they possess is your own — which 



3 7 2 


PART THREE 


they have stolen so that they may keep you as their slave. They cannot live 
outside your life; but if you defeat them they will collapse and be your 
dumb and docile tools for you to use according to your needs. 

They have made innumerable victims among men. Read the history 
of the visionaries and sectarians and you will see that the path you are 
following is strewn with skulls. 

Unwittingly, humanity has erected against them a wall of material- 
ism. This wall is an infallible protection; it is an image of the body, but at 
the same time a prison wall that blocks the view. 

Today they are all dispersed, and the phoenix of the inner life is resus- 
citated from the ashes where it has long been lying as if dead; but the vul- 
tures of another world are also beginning to flap their wings. This is why 
you must be careful. The scales in which you place your consciousness will 
show you when you can trust these apparitions: the more "awakened" it is, 
the further the scales will go down in your favor. 

If a guide, a brother from another spiritual world, wishes to make himself 
known to you, he should be able to do so without making inroads on your 
consciousness. You can place your hand on his side, like doubting Thomas. 

It would be easy to avoid the apparitions and dangers. You have only 
to behave like an ordinary man. But what will you have gained by that? 
You will remain a prisoner in the jail of your body until Death, the execu- 
tioner, comes to lead you to the scaffold. 

The desire of mortal men to see supernatural beings is a cry that 
wakes even the ghosts of the underworld, because such a desire is not 
pure; because it is greed, rather than desire; because it wants to "take" in 
some way or other, instead oflearning to "give." 

All those who look upon the Earth as a prison — all the pious folk 
who pray for deliverance, evoke, without knowing it, the world of ghosts. 
Do the same yourself, but knowingly. 

For those who do it unwittingly, is there an invisible hand to guide 
them out of the morass in which they are engulfed? I do not think so. 

When, on your way to the "awakened" state, you cross the kingdom 
of the shades, you will gradually come to see that they are simply thoughts 
that you are suddenly able to see with your eyes. That is why they are 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 7 3 


strangers to you, and seem to be creatures: for the language of forms is 
different from the language of the brain. 

Now the moment has arrived when the transformation takes place: 
the men around you will become ghosts. All those whom you have loved 
will suddenly turn into worms. Even your own body. 

It is impossible to imagine a more terrible solitude than that of the pil- 
grim in the desert who cannot find a well of pure water and dies of thirst. 

Everything I have said here can be found in the writings of holy men 
of all nations: the advent of a new kingdom; wakefulness; the conquest of 
the body and of solitude. And yet an unbridgeable gulf separates us from 
these holy men: they believe that the day is coming when the good will 
enter into Heaven and the wicked will be cast down into hell. We know 
that the time is coming when many will wake up, and will be set apart 
from the sleepers who cannot understand what it means to be "awake." 
We know that there is no good or bad; only right or wrong. They believe 
that to be "awake" means keeping their senses alert and their eyes open 
during the night so that a man can say his prayers. We know that to be 
"awake" is the "awakening" of the immortal "I," and that physical insom- 
nia is a natural consequence of this. They believe that the body ought to 
be neglected and despised because it is sinful. We know that there is no 
such thing as sin; the body is the beginning of our work, and we have 
come down to Earth to transform it into spirit. 

They believe that we ought to live in solitude with our bodies in 
order to purify our spirits. We know that our spirits must first retire into 
solitude in order that the body may be transfigured. It is for you, and you 
alone, to choose what path to take: theirs or ours. You must act according 
to your own desires. 

It is not for me to advise you. It is more salutary to pluck of your own 
free will a bitter fruit from a tree than to look at a sweet fruit hanging 
there that someone else has recommended. 

But do not do as so many do who know the saying: examine everything, 
and only retain the best. You must go ahead; examine nothing, and cling 
on to whatever comes first. 



374 


PART THREE 


1 A 1 he Point Bevond Infinity: From Surrealism to Fantastic Realism — 

The Supreme Point — Beware of images — The madness ofGeorg Cantor — 
The Yogi and the mathematician — A fundamental aspiration ofthe human 
spirit — An extract from a story by Jorge Luis Borges 

In the preceding chapters I have tried to give some idea of possible ways 
of studying the reality of another state of consciousness. In that other 
state, if it exists, every man who is tormented by the demon of a desire 
for knowledge would perhaps find an answer to the following question, 
which never fails to arise: 

"Is there not a place to be found in myself where everything that hap- 
pens to me would be immediately comprehensible; a place where every- 
thing that I see, know, or feel could be instantly deciphered, whether it 
be the movement of the stars, the way in which the petals of a flower are 
arranged, developments in the civilization to which I belong, or the most 
secret movements of my heart? 

"Is it not possible that this immense and mad desire to understand, 
which pursues me, as if in spite of myself, through all the vicissitudes of 
my life might not one day be completely and once and for all assuaged? Is 
there not in Man, in myself, a path which leads to a knowledge of all the 
laws by which the world is governed? Do I not possess, deep down within 
myself, the key to total knowledge?" 

Andre Breton, in the second Surrealist Manifesto, believed that he 
could return a definite answer to this question: "There is every reason 
to believe that there is a certain point within the mind from which life 
and death, the real and the imaginary, the past and the future, the com- 
municable and the incommunicable, the high and the low are no longer 
perceived contradictorily." 

It goes without saying that I do not. in my turn, claim to return a 
positive answer. In place of the methods and apparatus of surrealism, 
Bergier and I have aimed at substituting the more modest methods 
and heavier apparatus of what we call "fantastic realism.” I therefore 
propose, in my study of these questions to have recourse to several dif- 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 75 


ferent levels ofknowledge: esoteric tradition; avant-garde mathematics; 
unusual trends in modern literature. Our method, in fact, consists in 
carrying out a survey on different levels (those of the spirit of magic, 
of pure intelligence, and poetic intuition), establishing a connection 
between these three, verifying by comparison the truths belonging to 
each, and finally putting forward a hypothesis in which these truths 
will be integrated. This fat book of ours is nothing but a first attempt 
to justify and illustrate this method. 

The quotation from Andre Breton above dates from 1930. It achieved 
an extraordinary notoriety; and is still often quoted and commented on. 
For the fact is that one of the chief characteristics of the contemporary 
spirit is the growing interest now being taken in what might be termed: 
the point beyond infinity. 

This concept is to be found in the most ancient traditions as well as 
in the most advanced mathematics. It haunted the poetic inspiration of 
Paul Valery, and one of our greatest living writers, the Argentinian Jorge 
Luis Borges, has made it the theme of his finest and most astonishing 
short story, entitled, significantly, "Aleph."* 

This is the name of the first letter of the alphabet in sacred language. 
In the Kabbalah it indicates the En-Soph, the center of total knowledge, 
the point from where the spirit, or mind, perceives in a flash the total- 
ity of all phenomena, their causes and their significance. This letter is 
said, in a great many texts, to be in the form of a Man who is pointing 
to Heaven and Earth so as to show that the world below is the mirror 
and map of the world above. The point beyond Infinity is the supreme 
point mentioned in the second Surrealist Manifesto, the "Point Omega" 
of Father Teilhard de Chardin and the fulfillment of the alchemists' 
"Great Work." 

How can this concept be clearly defined? Let us make an attempt. 
There exists in the Universe a point, a privileged spot from where the 
Universe as a whole is revealed. We observe creation with instruments, 

'Published in Les Temps Modernes, June 1957, translated from the Spanish by Paul Ben- 
ichou. An extract from it will be given at the end of this chapter. 



376 


PART THREE 


telescopes, microscopes, etc. But if an observer could be in this privileged 
spot everything that is or has ever been would appear to him in a flash, 
and space and time would be revealed in the totality and ultimate signifi- 
cance of all their aspects. 

In order to give his sixth-form pupils some idea of the concept of eter- 
nity, a Jesuit teacher in a celebrated college employed the following image: 
"Imagine that the Earth is made of bronze and that a swallow brushes 
it with its wing once every thousand years. When the Earth has been 
demolished in this way, only then will eternity begin. . . ." But eternity 
is not only an infinite length of time. It is something other than mere 
duration. 

Images are not to be trusted. They help to transpose down to a lower 
level of consciousness an idea which could only survive at another altitude. 
They deliver a corpse to the cellar. The only images capable of conveying 
a lofty idea are those which create in one's consciousness a state of surprise 
and insecurity, calculated to raise this consciousness to the level of the 
idea in question, where it can be grasped in all its freshness and strength. 
Magic rites and genuine poetry serve no other purpose. 

For this reason we shall not try to provide an "image" of this con- 
cept of the point beyond Infinity. We prefer to refer the reader to Borges' 
magic and poetical text. 

Borges, in his story, has drawn on Kabbalistic and alchemist sources 
and on Muslim legends. Other legends, as old as humanity, evoke this 
Supreme Point, this Privileged Spot. But it is a characteristic of the times 
in which we live that the efforts of pure intelligence, engaged in research 
of a completely nonmystical and nonmetaphysical nature, have led to 
mathematical conceptions which enable us to rationalize and understand 
the idea of the Transfinite. 

The most important and remarkable achievements in this field were 
made by a mathematician of genius, Georg Cantor, who died mad. His 
work is still discussed by mathematicians, some of whom maintain that 
Cantor's ideas are logically indefensible. To which the partisans of the 
Transfinite theory reply: "No one shall drive us out of the Paradise opened 
up by Cantor!" 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


377 


Cantor's thought could be roughly expressed as follows: Let us imag- 
ine on this piece of paper two points A and B one centimeter apart. 

Now draw a segment joining A to B. How many points are there on 
this segment? Cantor demonstrates that there is more than an infinite 
number of points. To fill the segment completely would acquire a number 
of points greater than Infinity: the number Aleph. 

This number Aleph is equal to all its parts. If we divide the segment 
into ten equal parts, there will be as many points in one of these parts 
as on the whole segment. If we make a square on the base of this seg- 
ment, there will be as many points on the segment as on the surface of the 
square. If we make a cube, there will be as many points on the segment as 
in the whole volume of the cube. 

It we build from the cube a four-dimensional solid, a tessaract, there 
will be as many points on the segment as in the four-dimensional volume 
of the tessaract. And so on and so on, to Infinity. 

In this mathematical conception of the Transfinite, involving a study 
of the "Alephs," the part is equal to the whole. From the point of view 
of classical reasoning this is completely mad; and yet it is demonstrable. 
Equally demonstrable is the fact that an Aleph multiplied by any number 
will always be an Aleph. Thus there is something in common between 
contemporary higher mathematics and the Emerald Table of Hermes 
Trismegistus ("that which is above is like that which is below"), or the 
intuition ofpoets like William Blake ("the Universe is a grain of sand"). 

There is only one way of going beyond Aleph, and that is to raise it 
to a power of Aleph (we know that A to the power of B means A multi- 
plied by Ail times; similarly, Aleph to the power of Aleph equals another 
Aleph). 

If we call the first Aleph zero, the second is Aleph one, the third 
Aleph two, etc. Aleph zero, we said, is the number of points contained on 
a segment de droite or in a volume. It has been demonstrated that Aleph 
one is the number of all the possible rational curves in space. 

As for Aleph two, already it corresponds to a number which would be 
greater than anything one could conceive in the Universe. There are not 
enough objects in the whole Universe, which, if counted, would amount 



3 7 8 


PART THREE 


to an Aleph two. And the Alephs extend to Infinity. The human mind, 
then, is capable of reaching beyond the confines of the Universe and of 
forming concepts which the Universe could never fulfill. This is a tradi- 
tional attribute of God; but no one has ever imagined that the human 
mind could encroach upon this attribute. It was probably the contempla- 
tion of the Alephs in excess of two that drove Cantor mad. 

Modern mathematicians, of stronger fiber or, perhaps, less inclined 
to succumb to metaphysical delirium, handle concepts of this nature, and 
even deduce certain applications arising from there. 

Some of these applications are a challenge to reason and common 
sense — for example, the famous paradox of Banach and Tarski.* 

According to this paradoxical theory, it is possible to take a sphere of 
normal dimensions, such as an apple, for example, or a tennis ball, and to 
cut it up into slices and then to reassemble the slices so as to produce a 
sphere smaller than an atom or bigger than the Sun. 

It is not possible to perform physically this experiment, because the 
cutting has to be done with special surfaces which have no tangent plane 
and is thus technically impracticable. Most specialists, however, believe 
that this inconceivable operation is theoretically sound, in the sense that, 
although these surfaces do not belong to the tangible Universe, the calcu- 
lations relating to them are valid and effective in the Universe of nuclear 
physics. The neutrons in an atomic pile move in curves which have no 
tangent. 

The work ofBanach and Tarski has led to conclusions which resem- 
ble to an hallucinating degree the powers claimed by Hindu experts in 
the Samadhi technique: they declare that they are able to grow as big 
as the Milky Way, or to shrink to the dimensions of the smallest con- 
ceivable particle. Nearer to us, Shakespeare causes Hamlet to exclaim: 
"O God! I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of 
infinite space . . 

It is impossible, in our opinion, not to be struck by the resemblance 


'Two contemporary Polish mathematicians. Banach was murdered by the Nazis at 
Auschwitz; Tarski died in 1983. 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


379 


between these distant echoes of magical thought and modern mathemati- 
cal logic. An anthropologist taking part in a seminar on parapsychology 
at Royaumont in 1956 declared: "The siddhis of the Hindu yogis are 
extraordinary, since they include the faculty ofbeing able to make oneself 
as small as an atom, or as big as the Sun or the whole Universe! Among 
these fantastic claims, we encounter positive facts, which we have every 
reason to believe are true, and facts like these, which seem to us incred- 
ible and beyond the bounds of any sort of logic." But we can only sup- 
pose that this anthropologist was ignorant not only of Hamlet's cry, but 
of the unexpected forms assumed recently by the purest and most modern 
branch oflogic: mathematical logic. 

In what precisely lies the profound significance of these resemblances? 
As always in this book, we shall confine ourselves to formulating hypothe- 
ses. The most romantic and exciting, but the least "integrating" hypothesis 
would be to admit that the Samadhi techniques are real, that the initiate 
can in fact make himself as small as an atom and as big as a sun, and that 
these techniques are derived from knowledge handed down from ancient 
civilizations which had mastered the mathematics of the Transfinite. In 
our opinion, we are dealing here with one of the fundamental aspirations 
of the human mind, which finds expression in the yogis' Samadhi, as well 
as in the advanced mathematics ofBanach and Tarski. 

If the revolutionary mathematicians are right, if the paradoxes of 
the Transfinite are valid, then the most extraordinary perspectives are 
opened up for the human mind. It is conceivable that there exist in 
space Aleph points, like the one described in Borges' story. In these 
points the whole space-time continuum is represented, and the spec- 
tacle ranges from the interior of an atomic nucleus to the most remote 
Galaxy. 

One may go still further: one can imagine that as a result of manipula- 
tions involving at the same time matter, energy, and mind, any point in 
space whatsoever can become a Transfinite point. If such a hypothesis 
corresponds to a mathematical-psycho-physical reality we have the explana- 
tion of the alchemists' "Great Work," and of the supreme ecstasy met with 
in certain religions. The idea of a Transfinite point from which the whole 



3 8 0 


PART THREE 


Universe would become perceptible, is prodigiously abstract. But the basic 
equations of the theory of relativity are equally abstract — and yet they have 
produced the sound movie, television, and the atomic bomb. 

Moreover, the human mind is incessantly progressing toward higher 
and higher levels of abstraction. Paul Langevin has already pointed out 
that the electrician's apprentice is perfectly at home with the highly 
abstract and delicate notion of the "potential," and even has a word for it 
in his slang: he speaks of "the juice.” 

It is again possible to imagine that, in the more or less distant future, 
the human mind, having mastered the mathematics of the Transfinite, will 
succeed, with the aid of certain instruments in constructing, in "Aleph" 
space, Transfinite points from which it will be able to perceive the infinitely 
small and the infinitely great in their totality and ultimate significance. 

Thus, the traditional quest for the "Absolute" will have at last been 
crowned with success. It is tempting to dream that the experiment has 
already partially succeeded. We mentioned in an earlier chapter in this 
book the alchemistic experiment in which the operator oxidizes the sur- 
face of a molten bath of metal. When the film of oxide dispersed, it was 
said that an image of our Galaxy with its two satellites, Magellan's clouds, 
appeared against an opaque background. Legend or fact? In any ease, this 
is an example of the earliest Transfinite Instrument making contact with 
the Universe by means other an those provided by normal instruments. 

It was perhaps through an operation of this sort that the Mayas, 
who did not know the telescope, discovered Uranus and Neptune. But 
we must not let our imagination run away with us. Let us be content 
to take note of this fundamental aspiration of the mind, so neglected 
in classical psychology, and at the same time to observe the connection 
between ancient traditions and one of the most important trends in 
modern mathematics. 

Now follows the extract from the story by Borges: "The Aleph." 


When I reached the house in the Rue Garay the maid asked me if I 
would mind waiting. Monsieur, as usual, was in the cellar develop- 
ing his photographs. Near a vase empty of flowers on the unused 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN . 


piano stood smiling (more untemporal than anachronistic) the large 
portrait of Beatriz with its clumsy coloring. No one could see us, 
and impelled by an impulse of tender despair I went up to it and 
murmured: "Beatriz, Beatriz Elena, Beatriz Elena Viterbo, Beatriz 
darling, Beatriz lost forever, it is I, I, Borges." 

Carlos entered a moment later. He spoke abruptly: I understood 
that he was incapable of thinking of anything except the loss of the 
Aleph. 

"A small glass of pseudocognac," he ordered; "then down you go 
to the cellar. You know that the dorsal decubitus is indispensable. So 
are darkness, immobility and a certain visual accommodation. You 
are to lie on the ground, on the tiles, and gaze fixedly at the nine- 
teenth step of the stairway I shall show you. Then I shall go away, 
shut the trapdoor, and you'll be alone. Perhaps you'll be scared by 
some rodent — easily done! In a few minutes you will see the Aleph. 
The microcosmos of the alchemists and Kabbalists, our concrete and 
proverbial friend, the multum in parvol" [Much in little]. 

When we were in the dining room, he added: "It's understood 
that if you don't see it, your incapacity will not invalidate my 
experience. . . . Now go down; very soon you'll be able to start a 
conversation with all the images of Beatriz." 

I went downstairs quickly. The cellar, scarcely wider than the 
stairway, was very like a well. I looked in vain for the trunk which 
Carlos Argentino had mentioned. A few cases with bottles and some 
coarse sacking were piled up in one corner. Carlos took a sack, folded 
it, and placed it in a particular position. 

'"It's not much of a pillow," he explained; "but if I raise it an inch 
higher you won't see anything at all, and you'll be ashamed and 
embarrassed. Spread your great carcass on the ground and count 
nineteen steps." 

I complied with his ridiculous demands, and at last he went away. 
He carefully closed the trapdoor; the darkness, in spite of a chink, 
which I noticed later, seemed complete. Suddenly I realized the dan- 
ger I was in; I had allowed myself to be buried by a madman, after 



PART THREE 


having absorbed some poison. All Carlos's blustering failed to con- 
ceal his tenor lest the miracle should not be revealed to me; Carlos, 
to justify his delusions and so as not to know that he was mad, was 
bound to kill me. I felt a vague malaise, which I tried to put down 
to my stiffness, and not to the effect of a narcotic. I closed my eyes, 
then opened them. It was then that I saw the Aleph. 

I come now to the ineffable climax of my story; and this is where 
my despair as a writer begins. All language is an alphabet of symbols, 
whose use presupposes an experience which is shared by both parties; 
but how can I convey to others the infinite Aleph of which my timid 
memory has hardly any recollection? The mystics, in cases like this, 
abound in symbols; to indicate a divinity, a Persian speaks of a bird 
which, in some way, is all birds; Alanus de Insulis, of a sphere whose 
center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere; Ezekiel, of an 
angel with four faces facing simultaneously North, South, East, and 
West. (I have a reason for recalling these inconceivable analogies, 
as they have something in common with the Aleph.) Perhaps the 
gods would allow me to use an image of this kind; but then this 
story would be tainted with literature and falseness. In any case, 
the central problem is insoluble; it is impossible to enumerate, even 
partially, an infinite number of things. In that gigantic instant, I 
saw millions of actions, both delectable and atrocious; but none of 
them astonished so much as the fact that they all occupied the same 
point, without being either superimposed or transparent. What my 
eyes saw was simultaneous: my transcription of it will be successive, 
because language has to be. I want, however, to give some account 
of it. 

At the bottom of the step, to the right, I saw a little mottled 
sphere almost intolerably bright. At first I thought it was revolving 
around itself; afterwards I realized that this movement was an illu- 
sion due to the vertiginous spectacle it enclosed. The diameter of the 
Aleph must have been about two or three inches, but the whole of 
cosmic space was inside it, unreduced. Everything (the glass in the 
mirror, for example) was a multiplicity of things, because I could see 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN 


it clearly from every point in the Universe. I saw the populous sea; 
I saw the dawn and the evening; I saw the multitudes swarming in 
America; I saw a silver spiderweb in the center of a black pyramid; 
I saw a broken labyrinth (it was London); I saw interminable eyes 
gazing one upon the other inside me as palpable as if seen in a mir- 
ror; I saw all the mirrors on the planet, and not one reflected my 
image; I saw in a backyard in the Rue Soler the same paving stones 
that I had seen thirty years ago in a house at Fray Bentos; I saw 
clusters of grapes, snow, tobacco, veins of metal, steam; I saw convex 
deserts under the Equator and each of their grains of sand; I saw at 
Inverness a woman whom I shall not forget; I saw her disheveled 
hair and haughty carriage; I saw a cancer of the breast; I saw a ring 
of dried earth on a pavement where there had been a tree; I saw in a 
country house at Adrogue a copy of the first English translation of 
Pliny by Philemon Holland; I saw every letter on every page at the 
same time (as a child I had always wondered why when a book was 
closed, the letters did not get mixed up and lost during the night); I 
saw the night and day together; I saw a sunset at Queretaro, which 
seemed to reflect the color of a Bengal light; I saw my bedroom with 
no one in it; I saw in a room at Alkmaar a terrestrial globe between 
two mirrors, which multiplied it to Infinity; I saw horses with 
shaggy manes on a beach by the Caspian Sea; I saw the delicate bone 
structure of a hand; I saw the survivors of a battle sending off post- 
cards; I saw in a shopwindow at Mirzapur a pack of Spanish playing 
cards; I saw the sloping shadows of ferns on the floor of a greenhouse; 
I saw tigers, pistons, bisons, heaving seas, and armies; I saw all 
the ants on the Earth: I saw a Persian astrolabe; I saw in a drawer 
(and the handwriting made me tremble) obscene letters — precise, 
unbelievable — that Beatriz had addressed to Carlos Argentino; I saw 
an adored monument in the cemetery at Chacarita; I saw the ghastly 
remains of what had deliciously been Beatriz Viterbo; I saw the cir- 
culation of my dark blood; I saw the connection between love and 
the transformations of death; I saw the Aleph from every point; I 
saw the Earth in the Aleph and in the Earth again the Aleph, and in 



PART THREE 

the Aleph the Earth; I saw my face and my entrails; I saw your face, 
and I was giddy and I wept, because my eyes had seen that secret and 
conjectural object whose name men utter improperly, but which no 
man has ever seen: the inconceivable Universe. 

I felt an infinite reverence, and an infinite sorrow. "You must be 
feeling a bit dazed after poking your nose into what is no concern 
of yours," said a jovial and detested voice. "Even if you empty your 
whole brain you'll never in a hundred years be able to repay me for 
that revelation. What a terrific observatory, eh? Borges!" 

Carlos Argentino was standing at the top of the staircase. 

In the sudden half-light I managed to raise myself and stammer: 
"Terrific — Yes, indeed. ..." 

The note of indifference in my voice surprised me. Carlos went 
on anxiously: "You saw absolutely everything in color?" 

In that moment I planned my revenge. Nervously and evasively, 
with a show of friendliness, I thanked Carlos Argentino Daneri for 
the hospitality of his cellar, and urged him to take advantage of the 
demolition of his house to leave the pernicious capital, which never 
forgives anyone! I quietly but firmly refused to discuss the Aleph; I 
embraced him on leaving, and reminded him again that the country 
and tranquility were rhe best doctors. 

In the street, in the stairways of Constitucion and in the metro 
all the faces seemed familiar. I was afraid that there was nothing left 
in the world that could surprise me, and that all my life I should be 
haunted by the feeling that I had seen everything before. Fortunately, 
after a few sleepless nights, I had forgotten everything. 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 8 5 


A Some Reflections on the X Imams: The child astronomei — A sudden 

access of intelligence — The theory ofmutation — The myth ofthe Great 
Superior Ones — The Mutants among us — From Fiorla to Leonard 
Euler — An invisible society of Mutants? — The birth ofthe collective 
being — Love of the living 

During the winter of 1956, Dr. J. Ford Thomson, a psychiatrist at the 
Education Office at Wolverhampton, received in his consulting room a 
small boy of seven who was causing great anxiety to his parents and to 
his teacher. 

"He obviously could not have access to any specialist literature on the 
subject," wrote Dr. Thomson. "And even if he had, would he have been 
able even to read them? And yet. he knew the right answers to the most 
complicated problems of astronomy.” 

Greatly impressed by his study of this case, the doctor decided to 
investigate the level of intelligence among schoolchildren, and undertook 
to test five thousand children all over England, with the assistance ofthe 
British Medical Research Council, the physicists at Harwell and a num- 
ber of university professors. After eighteen months work, he came to the 
conclusion that there had been "a sudden rise in the level of intelligence.” 
He went on to say: 

Among the last ninety children from seven to nine years of age 
whom we questioned, twenty-six had an IQ of 140, which is practi- 
cally that of a genius. I believe that strontium 90, a radioactive sub- 
stance that penetrates the body, could be responsible for this. This 
substance did not exist before the first atomic explosion. 

Two American scientists, C. Brooke Worth and Robert K. Enders, 
in an important work entitled The Nature of Living Things, believe that 
there is proof that the gene groups have been disturbed and that, under 
the influence of forces that are still mysterious, a new race of men is 
appearing, endowed with superior intellectual powers. This is, of course. 



3 8 6 


PART THREE 


a subject to be approached with caution. The genetician Lewis Terman, 
however, after thirty years of study of infant prodigies, has reached the 
following conclusions: Most infant prodigies used in the past to lose 
their faculties on becoming adult. It would seem today that they tend 
to become a superior kind of adult, gifted with an intelligence that has 
nothing in common with that of ordinary human beings. They are 
thirty times as active as a normal man of talent. Their "success index” is 
multiplied by twenty-five. Their health is perfect, as well as their senti- 
mental and sexual balance. Finally, they escape the psychosomatic dis- 
eases, notably cancer. Is this certain? One thing is certain, and that is 
that we are now witnessing a progressive acceleration throughout the 
world of the mental faculties, and this is true also of the physical. The 
phenomenon is so evident that another American scientist, Dr. Sydney 
Pressey, of the University of Ohio, has just drawn up a plan for the 
instruction of precocious children capable, in his opinion, of producing 
300,000 superior intelligences a year. 

Does this point to a mutation of the human species? Shall we see a new 
race of beings who resemble us outwardly, but yet are different? This is 
the formidable problem we must now examine. What is certain is that we 
are witnessing the birth of a myth: that of the Mutant. That this myth 
should arise in our technical and scientific civilization must have some 
significance and dynamic value. 

Before tackling this subject, it should be noted that this access of 
intelligence that has been observed among children carries with it the 
simple, practical, and reasonable notion of a progressive improvement in 
the human race brought about by techniques. 

Modern sporting techniques have shown that Man possesses physical 
resources that are far from being exhausted. The experiments now being 
carried out on the behavior of the human body in interplanetary rockets 
have proved the existence of formidable powers of resistance. The survi- 
vors from the concentration camps have learned to what extremes it is 
possible to go to preserve life, and have discovered sources of strength in 
the interaction ofpsychic and physical forces. Finally, as regards the intel- 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 8 7 


ligence, the imminent discovery of mental techniques and chemical prod- 
ucts capable of stimulating the memory and reducing to zero the strain of 
memorizing, opens up some extraordinary perspectives. The principles of 
science are not inaccessible to a normal intelligence. If schoolchildren and 
students could be relieved of the enormous effort of memory they have to 
make, it will become quite possible to teach the structure of the nucleus 
and the periodical table of the elements to elementary pupils, and to 
explain the relativity and quantum theories to undergraduates. Moreover, 
when the principles of science are widely diffused in all countries and 
there are fifty or a hundred times as many research workers, the multipli- 
cation of new ideas, their mutual fecundation, and multiple points of con- 
tact will produce the same effect as an increase in the number of geniuses. 
Even greater, because genius is often unstable and antisocial. It is prob- 
able, too, that a new science, the general theory of information, will soon 
make it possible to express quantitatively the ideas we are now expound- 
ing qualitatively. By distributing equitably among men the knowledge 
mankind already possesses, and by encouraging them to exchange their 
knowledge so as to produce new combinations, we shall increase the intel- 
lectual potential ofhuman society no less rapidly and surely than by mul- 
tiplying the number of geniuses. This vision must be borne in mind along 
with the other more fantastic one of the Mutant. 

Our friend Charles-Noel Martin, in a sensational communication, has 
revealed the accumulated effects of atomic explosions. The effects of the 
radiation generated in the course of the tests increase in geometrical pro- 
portion. Thus the human race is in danger of being exposed to unfavor- 
able mutations. Moreover, for the last fifty years radium has been used all 
over the world without any serious precautions being taken. X-rays and 
certain radioactive chemical products are exploited in a great many indus- 
tries. How, and to what extent does this radiation affect modern man? 
We know nothing about the system of mutations. Could there not also 
be favorable mutations? Speaking at an atomic conference at Geneva, Sir 
Ernest Rock Carling, a Home Office pathologist, declared: "It is also to 
be hoped that, in a limited proportion of cases, these mutations will have 



388 


PART THREE 


a favorable effect and produce a child of genius. At the risk of shocking 
this distinguished company, I affirm that the mutation that will give us 
an Aristotle, a Leonardo da Vinci, a Newton, a Pasteur, or an Einstein 
will largely compensate for the ninety-nine others, which will have much 
less fortunate effects." 

First, a word as to the theory of mutations. 

At the end of the last century, A. Weisman and Hugo de Vries 
instilled new life into the old ideas about evolution. The atom was then 
fashionable, and its effects were beginning to make themselves felt in 
physics. They discovered the "atom of heredity," and localized it in the 
chromosomes. The new science of genetics thus created brought to light 
again the work done in the second half of the nineteenth century by the 
Czech monk, Gregor Mendel. 

Today it appears to be an established fact that heredity is transformed 
by the genes. These are strongly protected against their outside environ- 
ment. It seems, however, that atomic radiations, cosmic rays, and cer- 
tain violent poisons such as colchicine are able to attack them or cause 
the number of chromosomes to be doubled. It has been observed that 
the frequency of the mutations is proportional to the intensity of the 
radioactivity. 

Now, today, the radioactivity in the world is thirty-five times higher 
than it was at the beginning of the century. Exact examples of selection 
in bacteria operating through genetic mutation under the action of anti- 
biotics have been furnished in 1943 by Luria and Debruck, and in 1945 
by Demerec. These studies show that mutation selection is operating just 
as Darwin had imagined. The adversaries of the Lamarck-Mitchurine- 
Lyssenko theory as to the inheritance of acquired characteristics would 
therefore seem to be right. But can one generalize from bacteria to plants, 
animals or man? This is no longer doubted. 

Are there any genetic mutations in man that can be controlled? 

Yes. A case in point, as to which there appears to be no doubt, is the 
following: quoted from the archives of the Hospital for Sick Children 
in London: Dr. Louis Wolf, the Director of this hospital, estimates that 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN . . 


3 8 9 


thirty phenylcetonic mutants are born in England every year. These 
mutants possess genes which do not produce in the blood certain ferments 
that are normally found there. A phenylcetonic mutant is incapable of dis- 
sociating phenile-alamine. This inability renders the child vulnerable to 
epilepsy and eczema, turns his hair ash-gray, and renders an adult liable to 
mental disorders. A certain phenylcetonic race of men, distinct from nor- 
mal human beings, is therefore living amongst us. . . . This is an example 
of an unfavorable mutation; but must one refuse to believe in the possibil- 
ity of a favorable mutation? Some mutants could have in their blood sub- 
stances capable of improving their physical equilibrium and raising their 
intelligence coefficient to a level higher than our own. Their blood might 
contain natural tranquilizing agents, which protect them from the psychic 
shocks of social life and anxiety complexes. In this way they would form a 
race different from ordinary humans and superior to them. Psychiatrists 
and doctors try to find out what makes things go wrong. How are they to 
act when things go exceptionally well? 

Mutations are of various kinds, Cellular mutation, which does not attack 
the genes and has no effect on heredity, is known to us in its unfavorable 
forms: cancer and leukemia are cellular mutations. To what extent could 
there be cellular mutations, generalized throughout the organism, which 
would be beneficial? The mystics speak of the apparition of a "new flesh." 
a "transfiguration." 

We are also beginning to know something about unfavorable genetic 
mutations (e.g.. the phenylcetonic cases). Could there not, here too, be 
beneficial mutations? Here again we must distinguish between two 
aspects of the phenomenon, or rather two interpretations. 

1. This mutation, this apparition of another race could be due to 
chance. Radioactivity, among other causes, could induce a modifi- 
cation of the genes in certain individuals. The protein in the gene, 
if slightly affected, would no longer, for example, produce certain 
acids which cause us to feel anxiety. We should see another species 
of Man — a race of tranquil men who would not know fear or have 



3 9 0 


PART THREE 


any negative sensations. Men who would go tranquilly to war, and 
kill without anxiety and have no complexes in their pleasures — a 
sort of robot devoid of any internal emotions. It may well be that 
we are witnessing now the coming of this race. 

2. Genetic mutation is not, it would seem, due to chance, but 
directed in some way, perhaps toward a spiritual regeneration of 
humanity — a bridge, as it were, between a lower and a higher level 
of consciousness. The effects of radioactivity may be ordained 
as a means of improving the race. The modifications we men- 
tioned just now are merely a slight indication of the profound 
changes that humanity may be destined to undergo in the future. 
The protein of the gene may be structurally affected so that we 
should see the birth of a race whose intelligence would be com- 
pletely transformed — a race of beings capable of mastering time 
and space and of extending the domain of the intellect beyond 
Infinity. Between these two conceptions there is as much dif- 
ference as there is between hardened steel and steel subtly trans- 
formed into a magnetic band. 


The second conception (above), which is responsible for a modern 
myth which science fiction has adopted, is curiously reflected in various 
manifestations of contemporary spirituality. In the satanic camp we have 
seen how Hitler believed in the existence of Superior Beings, and heard 
him reveal his secret: "The mutation of the human race has begun; there 
are already supermen." 

Representing the new Hindu school of thought, the master of the 
Pondicherry Ashram, Sri Aurobindo Ghose, founded his philosophy and 
his commentaries on the sacred texts on the certitude that the upward 
evolution of humanity would be accomplished by means of mutations. 
And Teilhard de Chardin, representing a Catholicism open to scientific 
speculation, affirmed that he believed in "a force capable of impelling us 
toward some form of superhumanity ” ("Ultra-Humain"). 

Andre Breton, the Father of Surrealism, a pilgrim on the road of 
strangeness, sensitive to every transient current of disquieting ideas, spec- 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


3 9 1 


tator rather than creator, but a hyperlucid observer of the most extreme 
adventures of the modern mind, wrote as follows in 1942: 

Man is not. perhaps, the center, the principal protagonist of the 
Universe. It is permissible to believe that there are beings above him 
in the animal scale whose behavior is as different from his as his 
own is from that of whales or butterflies. There is no reason why 
there should not be beings altogether outside his field of sensory 
perception, thanks to some form of camouflage possibly of the kind 
adopted by mimetic animals. There is no doubt that this idea opens 
up a vast field for speculation, despite the fact that it tends to reduce 
man's interpretation of his Universe to a modest scale, not unlike 
that of an ant in an anthill which a child has trampled on. When 
we think of catastrophes such as a cyclone, where Man can only 
be either a victim- or a spectator, or war, about which notoriously 
inadequate opinions have been expressed, it should be possible in 
the course of an extensive study of a rigorously inductive nature, to 
succeed in giving a plausible picture of the structure and complexion 
of such hypothetical beings which haunt our imagination and fill us 
with obscure apprehensions. 

In this, I must point out, my thought is not far removed from that of 
Novalis who wrote: "We are really living inside an animal whose parasites 
we are. What we are, our constitution, depends on this animal, and vice 
versa." I also find myself in agreement with William James, who asked: 
"Who knows but that we may occupy in Nature as small a place by the 
side of beings of whom we know nothing as the cats and dogs who live 
beside us in our houses?" Scientists themselves would not contradict this 
point of view: "All around us there may be beings, built on the same 
model as ourselves, but different — men, for example, whose albumins may 
be straight."* 

A new myth? Should we try to persuade these beings that they 

*Emile Duclaux, former Director of the Pasteur Institute. 



3 9 2 


PART THREE 


are nothing but a mirage, or give them an opportunity to reveal 
themselves? 

Are there really beings among us who resemble us externally, but whose 
behavior is as far removed from ours as "that of whales or butterflies"? 
Common sense answers that, if so, we should be aware of it, and that if 
such beings were living among us, we should certainly see them. 

We know of a writer, John W. Campbell, who more or less demolished 
this commonsense argument in an editorial in the review Astounding 
Science Fiction in 1941. This is the gist of what he wrote: 

No one goes to see his doctor to tell him that his health is magnif- 
icent. No one would go to a psychiatrist to inform him that life is an 
easy and delicious game, or visit a psychoanalyst to declare that he is not 
suffering from any complex. Unfavorable mutations can be detected. But 
what about the favorable ones? 

Ah. but — objects common sense — the superior mutant would be 
revealed by their prodigious intellectual activities. 

Campbell replies: 

Nor at all. A man of genius, of the same species as ourselves — 
an Einstein, for example — publishes the fruits of his researches. 

He attracts attention. This often causes him a lot of trouble in 
the form of open hostility, incomprehension, threats, and perhaps 
exile. Einstein at the end of his life declared: "If I had known, I 
should have been a plumber." Above Einstein's level, the mutant 
is clever enough to conceal himself. He keeps his discoveries for 
himself. He lives as discreetly as possible, and only tries to remain 
in contact with other intelligences like his own. A few hours of 
work each week are enough to ensure rhe necessities of life; the 
rest of his life he spends in activities of which we can have no 
conception. 

An attractive hypothesis, but one that is impossible to check in the 
light of science as it is today. No anatomic examination can tell us any- 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN . . 


393 


thing about intelligence. Anatole France had an abnormally light brain. 
Moreover, there is no reason why a mutant should be the subject of an 
autopsy, except in the case of an accident; in which case, how would it 
be possible to detect a mutation affecting the cells of the brain? It is not, 
therefore, completely mad to admit the possible existence of Superior 
Beings in our midst. If mutations are governed by chance alone, some of 
them are probably favorable. If they are governed by an organized nat- 
ural force, or correspond to a living man's will to better himself, as Sri 
Aurobindo, for example, believed, then there must be many more. Our 
successors may be here already. 

There is every reason to believe that they are exactly like us, or rather 
that we have no means of distinguishing them. Some science-fiction 
writers naturally imagine that mutants have some anatomical peculiar- 
ities. Van Vogt, in his celebrated In Pursuit of the Slans imagines they 
have a special kind of hair: a sort of antennae used in telepathic com- 
munications; and he makes this the basis of a fine but terrible story about 
hunting down Superior Beings, modeled on the persecution of the Jews. 
Storytellers, however, sometimes add to Nature to simplify the problems. 

If telepathy exists, it is probably not transmitted by waves, and has no 
need of antennae. If we believe in a controlled evolution it is reasonable 
to suppose that the mutant, to ensure his own protection, is able to cam- 
ouflage himself to perfection. In the animal kingdom it is a commonplace 
that the predatory species are deceived by their prey disguising themselves 
as dead leaves, twigs, even excrement, with an astonishing perfection. 
Some succulents are even cunning enough to imitate the color of other 
uneatable species. 

As Andre Breton said, when imagining the presence among us of 
"Great Transparent Beings," it is possible that they escape our observa- 
tion "thanks to some form of camouflage of the kind adopted by mimetic 
animals." 

"The New Man is living amongst us! He is there! What more do you 
want? I will tell you a secret: I have seen the New Man. He is intrepid and 
cruel! I was afraid in his presence!" Thus spake a trembling Hitler. 



3 9 4 


PART THREE 


Another example: Maupassant, in an access of terror, and madness, 
in blood and sweat wrote in precipitate haste one of the most disturbing 
texts in the whole of French literature: "Le Florla": 

Now I know, I can guess the truth. Man's dominion is a thing of the 
past! He has come, the being who was an object of fear to primitive 
races, whom anxious priests tried to exorcize, whom sorcerers called 
up at midnight without ever yet seeing him in visible form, to whom 
the temporary lords of creation attributed in imagination the shape 
monstrous or attractive, of gnomes, spirits, fairies, or goblins. After 
the vulgar ideas inspired by prehistoric fears, scientific research has 
clarified the outlines of Man's presentiment. Mesmer guessed it, 
and in the last ten years doctors have discovered the exact nature of 
this being's power before its manifestation. They have experimented 
with this weapon of the new lord of the world, the imposition of 
a dominant will on the human soul, which thus becomes its slave. 

To this power they have given the name of magnetism, hypnotism, 
suggestion, and what not. I have seen them playing with it like silly 
children playing with fire. Woe to us! Woe to mankind! He has 
come . . . what is his name ? . . . yes, he is shouting it and I can't hear . 

. . say it again! . . . Le Horla, I've got it at last. . . Le Horla . . . that's 
his name Le Horla has come!"* 

In his interpretation of this vision of horror and wonder. Maupassant, true 
to the age he lived in, endowed the mutant with hypnotic powers. Modern 
science-fiction literature, nearer to the work of Rhine, Soal, and MacConnel 
than to that of Charcot, tends to endow the mutants with parapsychologi- 
cal powers: telepathy, or telekinesis. Other writers go further and show us 
the Superior Being floating in the air or going through walls: but this is 
pure fantasy, an agreeable echo of the archetype of all fairy stories. Just as 
the island of the mutants, or the galaxy of the mutants correspond to the 


'Extract from "Le Horla" (The Incubus), a short story by Guy de Maupassant, Penguin 
Edition; translated by H. N. P. Sloman. 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


395 


old dream of the Islands of the Blest, so do paranormal powers correspond 
to the archetype of the Greek gods. But from the standpoint of reality, it is 
obvious that all these powers would be completely useless to beings living in 
a modern civilization. Why have telepathy when the radio exists? Why tele- 
kinesis, when you have the airplane? If the mutant exists as we are tempted 
to believe, he has powers greater than any that we can imagine. Powers that 
an ordinary man seldom uses: he is gifted with intelligence. 

Our actions are irrational, and intelligence plays only a very small part 
in our decisions. One can imagine the Ultra-Human, representing a new 
stage of life on this planet as a rational being, no longer merely a reason- 
ing one, and as being endowed with a permanent objective intelligence, 
only taking decisions after having examined lucidly and thoroughly all the 
information at its disposal. A being whose nervous system is immune to 
any negative impulses. A being with a cold and swiftly calculating brain, 
equipped with a completely infallible memory. If the mutant exists it is 
likely to have a physical resemblance to a human being, but to be different 
in all other respects, owing to the fact that it controls its intelligence and 
uses it unceasingly. 

This seems a simple enough vision. Nevertheless, it is more fantastic 
than anything in science-fiction literature. The biologists are beginning to 
understand the chemical modifications, which would have to precede the 
creation of this new species. Experiments with tranquilizing drugs, lyser- 
gic acid, and its by-products have shown that very feeble traces of certain 
organic compounds still unknown to us would be enough to protect us 
against the excessive permeability of our nervous system, and enable us in 
this way to exercise on all occasions an objective intelligence. Since there 
are phenylcetonic mutants in existence whose chemical composition is less 
well adapted to life than our own, it is legitimate to suppose that there are 
mutants whose chemical composition is better adapted than ours to life in 
this world in process of transformation. It is these mutants, whose glands 
would spontaneously secrete tranquilizers and substances capable of stim- 
ulating the activity of the brain, who would be the forerunners of the new 
species destined to replace Man. Their place of residence would not be 
some mysterious island or forbidden planet. Life has been able in the past 



3 9 6 


PART THREE 


to produce creatures adapted to dwell in the depths of the ocean or in the 
rarefied atmosphere of the highest mountains. It is also capable of creat- 
ing the "Ultra-Human" whose ideal habitation would be the Metropolis, 
"the Earth of smoking factories, and teeming multitudes, the Earth that 
vibrates with a hundred new kinds of radiation. . .." 

Life is never perfectly adapted, but it tends toward perfect adaptation. 
Why should it relax this tension since the creation of Man? Why should 
it not prepare the way for something better than Man, through Man? 
And it may be that this Man-after-Man is already born. "Life," says Dr. 
Loren Eiseley, "is a great dreamy river, which flows through every open- 
ing, changing and adapting itself as it advances." Its apparent stability is 
an illusion engendered by the brevity of our own life. Just as we do not 
see the hands of a clock going around, so do we fail to see one form of life 
flowing into another. 

The object of this book is to reveal facts and suggest hypotheses, but not 
in any way to promote any particular belief. We do not claim to know 
any mutants. Nevertheless, ifwe accept the idea that the perfect mutant is 
perfectly camouflaged, we can accept the idea that Nature sometimes fails 
in her efforts to improve creation and puts into circulation some imper- 
fect mutants who, unlike the others, are visible. 

In such mutants you may find a combination of exceptional mental 
qualities and physical defects, as, for example, in the case of a great many 
lightning calculators. The greatest specialist in this field. Professor Robert 
Tocquet, has stated his views as follows: "Many calculators were at first 
thought to be backward children. The Belgian prodigy Oscar Verhaeghe 
at the age of seventeen expressed himself like a two-year-old baby. Zerah 
Colburn, moreover, showed symptoms of degeneration: he had an extra fin- 
ger on each hand. Another lightning calculator, Prolongeau, was born with- 
out arms or legs. Mondeux was subject to hysteria. Oscar Verhaeghe, born on 
April 16, 1862, at Bousval in Belgium to parents of humble origin, belongs 
to the group of calculators whose intelligence is far below average. The rais- 
ing to different powers of numbers consisting of the same figures was one 
of his specialities. Thus, he could find the square of 888,888,888,888,888 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


397 


in forty seconds, and raise 9,999,999 to the fifth power in sixty seconds, the 
resulting numbers running to thirty-five figures.* 

Degenerates, or imperfect mutants? 

Here, now, is perhaps an example of a perfect mutant: Leonard Euler, 
who was in contact with Roger Boscovitch (whose story we related in the 
preceding chapter).' 

Leonard Euler (1707-83) is generally considered one of the greatest 
mathematicians of all time. But this qualification is too narrow to con- 
vey the suprahuman qualities of his mind. He could skim through the 
most complex treatise in a few minutes, and could recite from memory 
all the books he had ever handled since he had learned to read. He had a 
thorough and complete knowledge of physics, chemistry, zoology, botany, 
geology, medicine, history, and Greek and Latin literature. In all these 
fields he was without a rival among his contemporaries. He had the power 
of isolating himself completely at will from the outside world, and of fol- 
lowing a train of thought in any circumstances whatever. He lost his sight 
in 1766, but this did not affect him. One of his pupils has recorded that 
during a discussion relating to calculations involving seventeen decimal 
places, there was some disagreement with regard to the fifteenth place. 
Euler then, with his eyes closed, performed the whole calculation again in 
a fraction of a second. He saw relationships and connections which had 
escaped the notice of other cultivated and intelligent beings throughout 
the ages. Thus, he discovered in the poetry ofVergil new and revolution- 
ary mathematical ideas. He was a simple and modest man, and all his 
contemporaries agree that his one desire was to remain unnoticed. Euler 
and Boscovitch lived at a time when men of learning were honored, and 
ran no risk of being imprisoned for their political opinions, or of being 
forced by governments to manufacture arms. If they had lived in our 
century, perhaps they would have taken steps to camouflage themselves 


'New York Herald Tribune, November 23, 1959. 

tThe diary of the father of the science of astronautics, Ziolkovsky, was published in 
U.S.S.R. in 1959. In it he states that he borrowed most of his ideas from the work of 
Boscovitch. 



3 9 8 


PART THREE 


completely. Maybe there are Eulers and Boscovitchs among us today. 

Intelligent and rational mutants, endowed with an infallible memory, 
a constantly lucid intelligence are perhaps working beside us disguised as 
country schoolmasters or insurance agents. 

Do these mutants form an invisible society? No human being lives 
alone. He can only develop himself within a society. The human soci- 
ety we know has shown only too well its hostility toward an objective 
intelligence or a free imagination: Giordano Bruno burnt, Einstein exiled, 
Oppenheimer kept under observation. If there are mutants answering to 
our description, there is every reason to believe that they are working and 
communicating with one another in a society superimposed on our own, 
which no doubt extends all over the world. That they communicate by 
means of superior psychic powers, such as telepathy, seems to us a child- 
ish hypothesis. Nearer to reality, and consequently more fantastic, is the 
hypothesis that they are using normal human methods of communication 
to convey messages and information for their exclusive use. 

The general theory of information and semantics proves fairly con- 
clusively that it is possible to draw up texts which have a double, triple, 
or quadruple meaning. There are Chinese texts in which seven meanings 
are enclosed one within the other. One of the heroes in Van Vogt's In 
Pursuit of the Slans discovers the existence of other mutants by reading 
the newspapers and deciphering apparently inoffensive articles. A simi- 
lar network of communication in our own Press and literature, etc., is 
quite conceivable. The New York Herald Tribune published on March 15, 
1958, an analysis from its London correspondent of a series of advertise- 
ments appearing in the Personal column of The Times. These messages had 
attracted the attention of professional cryptographers and the police in vari- 
ous countries because they obviously had a hidden meaning. But this mean- 
ing was never deciphered. There are, no doubt, other still less decipherable 
means of communication. Who knows but that some fourth-rate novel, or 
some technical textbook, or some apparently obscure philosophical work is 
not a secret vehicle for complex studies and messages addressed to higher 
intelligences, as different from our own as we are from the great apes. 

n 


mm 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


399 


Louis de Brogue, in an article in Nouvelles Litteraires on March 2, 1950, 
entitled "What is Life?" wrote as follows: 

We must never forget how limited our knowledge must always be, 
and in what unexpected ways it is likely to develop. If our human 
civilization endures, the physics of the future a few centuries hence 
could well be as different from the physics of today as the latter is 
from the physics of Aristotle. The greatly extended range of knowl- 
edge to which we shall have access by then will perhaps enable us to 
incorporate in a general synthesis, in which each will have its place, 
the whole body of physical and biological phenomena. If human 
thought, which by that time may have had its powers extended by some 
biological mutation, can one day rise to those heights, it will then 
perceive in its true perspective, something of which, no doubt, we 
have no idea at present, namely, the unity of the phenomena, which 
we distinguish with the help of adjectives such as "physicochemical," 
"biological," or even "psychic." 

And what if this mutation has already taken place? One of the great- 
est French biologists, Morand, the inventor of the tranquilizers, admits 
that mutants have made their appearance all through the history of 
humanity* 

"These mutants, among others, were called Mahomet, Confucius, Jesus 

Christ " Many more exist, perhaps. It is by no means inconceivable that, 

in the present evolutionary period, the mutants think it would be useless 
to offer themselves as an example, or to preach some new form of religion. 
There are better things to do at present than to appeal to the individual. 
Again, they may think that it is both desirable and necessary that our 
humanity should move toward collectivization. Finally, it may well be that 
they think it a good thing that we should be suffering now the pains of 
childbirth, and would even welcome some great catastrophe which might 


*P. Monad and H. Laborit, Les Destins de la Vie et de I'Homme (The Destinies of Life 
and of Man), Ed. Masson, Paris, 1959. 



4 0 0 


PART THREE 


hasten a better understanding of the spiritual tragedy represented in its 
totality by the phenomenon ofMan. So that they may act more efficiently 
and so as to obtain a clearer view of the current that is perhaps sweeping us 
all upwards to some form of the Ultra-Human to which they have access, 
it is perhaps necessary for them to remain hidden, and to keep their coex- 
istence with us secret while, despite appearances and thanks, perhaps, to 
their presence, a new soul is being forged for the new world which we long 
for with all our heart. 

We have arrived now at the frontiers of the imaginary. It is time to 
stop. We only want to suggest as many not unreasonable hypotheses as 
possible. Many of them, no doubt, will have to be rejected. But if some of 
them have opened doors to research that have hitherto been hidden, we 
shall not have labored in vain; we shall not have exposed ourselves use- 
lessly to ridicule. "The secret of life can be discovered. If I had an oppor- 
tunity to do this, I should not allow myself to be deterred by ridicule." 
These words were spoken by Loren Eiseley. 

Any reflections on the question of the mutants must lead to specu- 
lation with regard to evolution, and the destiny and nature of Life and 
Man. What is Time, in regard to the cosmic scale by which the history 
of the Earth must be measured? Has not the future, so to speak, been 
with us from all eternity? The appearance of the mutants would seem to 
suggest that our human society is from time to time given a foretaste of 
the future, and visited by beings already possessing a knowledge of things 
to come. Are not the mutants the memory of the future with which the 
great brain of humanity is perhaps endowed? 

Another thing: the idea of a favorable mutation is clearly linked with the 
notion of progress. This hypothesis of a mutation can be dealt with on a 
strictly scientific level. It is known for certain that the areas most recently 
affected by evolution, and the least specialized — namely, the silent zones 
of cerebral matter — are the last to mature. Some neurologists think with 
reason that this points to possibilities which the future of the species will 
reveal. There may be individuals with "other” possibilities; a superior kind 
of individualization. And yet the general trend of societies would seem to 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN ... 


401 


be toward a greater degree of collectivization. Is this contradictory? We 
do not think so. Existence, in our view, does not mean contradiction, but 
complementing and going beyond. 

In a letter to his friend Laborit, the biologist, Morand wrote these 
words: 

The perfectly logical man who has abandoned all passions and all 
illusions will become a cell in the vital continuum constituted by 
a society arrived at the peak of its evolution; we have obviously not 
reached that stage yet; but I do not think there can be evolution 
without it. Then, and then only, will there emerge that "universal 
consciousness" of the collective being, which we are all tending to 
become. 

Confronted with this vision, which seems highly probable, we are 
well aware that those who remain faithful to the old humanism that has 
molded our civilization, will be filled with despair. They picture Man, 
henceforth deprived of any aim in life, entering into his decline. ", . . 
Perfectly logical, and having abandoned all passions and all illusions... 
How could a Man transformed into a being radiating intelligence be on 
the point of a decline? It is true that the psychological "I," which we call 
"personality" is likely to disappear. But we do not think that this "person- 
ality" is Man's richest possession. It is only one of the instruments he has 
been given to enable him to pass into the "awakened” state. 

When the goal has been attained, the instrument disappears. If we 
had mirrors capable of revealing to us that "personality" that we value so 
highly, we could not bear to look at our reflections so disfigured would it 
be by all sorts of monstrous excrescences. Only a truly "awakened” man 
could look into such a mirror without being in danger of dying from 
fright, because then the mirror would reflect nothing and be absolutely 
pure. The true face is one that in the mirror of truth is not reflected. We 
have not yet acquired, in this sense, a face. And the gods will not speak to 
us face-to-face until we have one ourselves. 

Rejecting the fluid and limited psychological "I," Rimbaud long ago 



402 


PART THREE 


said: "I is another." This is the pure, transparent, immobile "I" endowed 
with infinite understanding: in all traditions, Man is taught to give up 
everything to attain this state. Maybe we are living at a time when the 
near future speaks the same language as the distant past. 

Apart from these considerations on the "other" possibilities of the 
mind, our thinking, even at its most tolerant, perceives only contradictions 
between the individual and the collective conscience, and between a per- 
sonal and a collective life. But thinking which perceives contradictions in 
living things, is wrong thinking. The individual conscience, when truly 
"awakened," enters into the universal. Personal life, if regarded and used 
wholly and solely as an instrument of "awakening," can be merged with 
impunity in a collective life. 

This does not mean, however, that the formation of this collective being is 
the intimate aim of evolution. The spirit of the Earth and the individual 
soul have not yet fully emerged. The pessimist seeing the great upheav- 
als which are caused by this secret emergence, says that we ought at least 
to try to "save Man." But this Man does not want saving, but changing. 
Man, as projected in orthodox psychology and current philosophy, has 
already been left behind, condemned as inadaptable. With or without 
mutation, we must envisage a different kind of human if we want to bring 
the phenomenon of Man into line with the present trend of our destiny. 
From now on, it is no longer a question of pessimism or optimism: it is a 
question of love. 

At the time when I thought I could possess truth in my soul and in 
my body, when I imagined I should find the solution of everything at the 
school of the philosopher Gurdjieff, there was one word which I never 
heard pronounced, and that was: love. 

Today there is nothing about which I feel absolutely certain. I could 
not guarantee the validity of even the most timid hypothesis put forward 
in the course of this book. Five years of study and work in collaboration 
with Jacques Bergier have only taught me one thing: a determination to 
keep my mind prepared for surprises, and to have confidence in life in all 
its forms, and in intelligence wherever and however it may be manifested 



THAT INFINITY CALLED MAN . . 


403 


in living things around me. These two states: surprise and confidence are 
inseparable. The determination to attain them and to remain in them 
undergoes, in the end. a transformation. It ceased to be an act of will, in 
other words compulsion, and becomes love, in other words, joy and lib- 
erty. To sum up. all that I have gained is that I now bear within myself a 
love, which can henceforth never be uprooted, for all things living, in this 
world and in every world ad infinitum. 

In order to express and pay homage to this powerful and complex 
love Jacques Bergier and I have, no doubt, not confined ourselves, as pru- 
dence would have dictated, to strictly scientific methods. But is there 
such a thing as prudent love? Our methods have been those familiar to 
scientists, but also to theologians, poets, sorcerers, magicians, and chil- 
dren. In a word, we have behaved like barbarians, preferring invasion to 
evasion. This is because something told us that we were indeed a part of 
the strange armies, transparent cohorts, and phantom hordes, heralded 
by ultrasonic trumpets, which are beginning to descend upon our civi- 
lization. We are on the side of the invaders, on the side of the life that 
is coming, on the side of a changing age and changing ways of thought. 
Error? Madness? A man's life is only justified by his efforts, however fee- 
ble, toward better understanding. And to understand better is to become 
more attached. The more I understand, the more I love; for everything 
that is understood is good. 



INDEX 


Abellio, Raymond, 366-68 
Abominable Seaman, 174 
Abominable Snowman, 133, 174 
Adepts, 63, 64 
Agarthi, 260 

Agrest (professor), 155, 2 87-99 
Ahnenerbe Society, 253, 267, 272-73 
Alchemy and Alchemists, 44, 46-47, 63 
ancient civilizations and, 85-86 
codes of, 8 3-84 
conclusions about, 77-79 
importance of, 78-79 
madness and, 81-82 
materials of, 100-101 
modern day, 73-77, 99-10 0 
nuclear energy and, 94-96 
practices of, 101-10 
Saturn and, 109-12 
texts of, 7 9-84 
transmutation and, 86-90 
Aleph, The, 3 8 0-84 
Alexander II, Emperor, 4 
Alleau, Rene, 47-48, 83 
Almanzar, 143 
Anaximenes, 50 
Ancients, 56-58, 85 
Andrews, James, 348 


anthropology, 133-38 
Antoinette, Marie, 50 
Apollinaire, Guillaume, 298-99 
archaeology, 151-57 
Aristotle, 49 

Armstrong, Edwin, 44-45 

Aron, M. Raymond, 167 

art and artists, 10, 41, 166-67, 323 

Aryans, 260 

Asoka, Emperor, 36-3 8 

astral bodies, 11 

astrology, 201, 227, 304 

Atlantis, 140-41, 214-16, 217, 218-19 

atomic bomb, 283-84, 387-9 0 

atoms, 110-12 

attention, 28 

Atterbury, Francis, 48, 85 
Augustine, Saint, 49 
awakened state, 336-44 

desire for images and, 353-54 
illustrations of, 343-53 
machines and, 355-57 
testimonies of, 35 8-73 
Aztecs, 136 

Bacon, Roger, 54, 89 
Balzac, Honore de, 33-34, 295 



NDEX 


4 0 5 


Banach (mathematician), 377 
Baudin, M., 167 
Beerbohm, Max, 187 
bees, 320 

Beguin, Albert, 295 
Bell, Eric Temple, 329, 338-39 
Bellamy, H. Si, 224, 261 
Benayoun, Robert, 119 
Bender (airman), 248, 249, 250 
Bergier, Jacques, 18, 76, 80, 88-89, 
90-99, 281-82 

Berthelot, Marcellin, 3, 6, 17, 102 

Berzelius (chemist), 56 

Bierce, Ambrose, 5 

Billy, Andre, 75 

biology, 15-16 

Blackburn, John, 348-49 

Black Order, 253, 267-72 

Blake, William, 227-28, 377 

Blavatsky (Mme.), 196, 197-98,211 

Bodhidarma, 337 

Boetticher, Johann Friedrich, 81 

Bohr, Niels, 301 

Book of the Damned, The, 118-19 
Borges, Jorge Luis, 357-58, 380-84 
Boscovitch, Roger, 35 0-53, 354, 397-98 
Bouchez, 256 
Bourget, Paul, 10 
Boveri, Margaret, 170 
Bradbury, Ray, 236-37 
brain, 313-14, 316, 320-21, 324-26, 
338, 339-40 
Brandt, Hennig, 81 
Branly, Edouard, 6 
Braun, Werner von, 44-45 
Brave New World, 35 
Breton, Andre, 374-75, 390-91, 393 


Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, 30 

Broglie, Louis de, 13, 318-19, 340 

Brogue, Louis de, 399 

Brugg, Elmar, 207, 224, 226 

Bruno, Giordano, 398 

Buchan, John, 20, 64-69, 170, 261 

Buddhism, 37 

Buriell, 55 

calculating machine, 312-13, 319-20, 
325-28 

Camp, Sprague de, 246 
Campbell, John W., 118-19,392 
Camus, Albert, 34 
cancer, 389-90 

Canseliet, M. Eugene, 88-89, 93-94 
Cantor, Georg, 376-77 
Carling, Ernest Rock, 3 87-88 
Caitier, Raymond, 146 
Castel, Pere, 81 
cathedrals, 323-24 
Cayce, Edgar, 346-50, 354 
Chappe, Claude, 52 
Chardin, Teilhard de, 17, 23, 89, 277, 
306-7, 325, 330, 390 
Chardonne, Jacques, 178 
Charon, Jean, 43, 351 
Chesterton, G. K., 175-76, 284, 304, 311 
Chevreul, 54 
cholera, 39 

Chou-Hoang-Ti, Emperor, 48 
civilization, 65, 131-49, 150,217-22 
Clausius (German), 5 
Cocteau, Jean, 13 8-39 
codes, 83-84 

Columbus, Christopher, 29, 54 
communication, 130 



4 0 6 


NDEX 


communism, 20 

Computers and Automation, 38 

Comte, Auguste, 306 

consciousness, 9, 15-16,306-12 

coordination, 28 

Copernicus, 133 

Corres, Donoso, 34 

Cortez, 145 

cosmology, 40, 50 

Cosmos, 204, 226 

Counterpoint, 35 

Critias, 14 0-41 

Crookes, William, 11 

cryptocracy, 70-72 

crystals, 157 

Curie, Marie, 11 

Dali, Salvador, 41 

Dante, 176 

Darwin, Charles, 294 

d Aurillac, Gerbert. See Sylvester II, Pope 

Dead Sea Scrolls, 288 

DeAlchima, 9 8-99 

Delmas, Achille, 195, 256, 267 

Democritus, 49 

Descartes, 28-29, 49 

despair, 21 

Despotopoulous, O. J., 35-36 
Dietrich, Otto, 179-80 
diving bell, 52 
Dornberger, Walter, 223 
Doyle, Conan, 295-96 
Dreiser, Theodore, 119 
Duane, J. W., 301 
Duchesne, 53-54 
Du Perron (French engineer), 34 
Dutourd, Jean, 285 


Dutt, Eric Edward, 98 
Dzyan, book of, 154-55 

Earth, 129-30, 133, 138-39, 150, 
190-91, 206-8, 241 
Easter Island, 14 3-44 
Eckardt, Dietrich, 253-54 
Edelweiss, 261 
Edison, Thomas, 11, 44-45 
Einstein, Albert, 12, 15, 24, 26, 249- 
50, 329, 340, 392, 398 
Eiseley, Loren, 290, 4 00 . 
electrons, 13-14 
Eliot, T. S., 187 
elixir of Faust, 107 
Enderby, Victor, 31 
Enders, Roberr K., 3 8 5-86 
energy, 11,89 

English Society of Initiates, 182-83 

Engstrom, Robert, 223 

Enneads, 227 

Epicurus, 49 

Ernst, Max, 41 

Eskimos, 150-51 

esotericism, 4 1 - 4 2 , 160 

eternal ice, 206-8,222,224,226,231-32 

eternal present, 15-16 

Euler, Leonard, 340, 397-98 

Ewers, Hans Heinz, 176 

exorericism, 160 

extrasensory perception, 46-47, 304-5 
extraterrestrials, 127-32, 158, 160-61 

Fain, Cynthia, 147 

fantasy, 11-12 

Fauth, Philipp, 203 

Feodorovna, Empress Alexandra, 259 



INDEX 


407 


Fermi (scientist), 250 
fertilizers, 59 

fire, 206-8, 222, 226, 231-32, 237-38 

Fisher, Heinz, 243-44 

Fishman, Jack, 192 

Flammarion, Camille, 5-6, 295 

flying saucers, 286-90 

Foligno, Angele de, 319 

Fort, Charles Hoy, 113-27, 131-32 

Fortune, 18-19 

Fortune (doctor), 135 

Fournier, 50-51 

France, Anatole, 10,393 

Frazer, James, 133-34 

freedom, 16, 115-16 

Freemasons, 170-71 

Freud, Sigmund, 6 

Frieschauer, Willi, 270 

frozen world, 199,201-2 

Fulcanelli, 75, 84, 85, 93-94, 106, 323 

future, 14-15 

Future Perfect, 41 

Galileo, 50 
Gallois, Evariste, 313 
Gamow, George, 264 
Ganges, 40 

Gardner, Martin, 118,224,248 
Gaswindt, Herman, 3-4 
Gauguin, Paul, 41 
Gaxotte, Pierre, 133 
General Semantics, 39 
genetic mutations. See mutation 
genius, 27-28, 385-87 
Germany. See Hitler, Adolph; Nazis 
and Nazism 
Ghose, Aurobindo, 390 


giants, 211-21 
Gibbs, Willard, 352 
Giono, Jean, 285 
glassmaking, 59 
Glatigny, 70-71 
Glauber, Johann Rudolf, 81 
Goebbels, Joseph, 239, 240, 241 
Goering, Hermann, 243, 245 
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 177 
gold, 55, 95-96 
Gold (astronomer), 2 89-90 
Golden Age, 213 
Golden Bough, The, 45, 133-34 
Golden Dawn, 189-90 
Goudsmith (physicist), 96-98 
Graindorge, Thomas, 9 
Grand, Albert le, 81, 98-99 
gravitation, 40, 81-82, 211, 217 
Great God Pan, The, 183-84, 185 
Great Unknown, 115 
Great Work, 78-79, 88, 95-96, 109 
Grousset, M. Rene, 167 
Guenon, Rene, 33-34, 197-98,224, 
236, 260, 332-33 

Gurdjieff, G. L, 33-34,73-75,161,191, 
196,199,210,23 6,332-33,359-63 

Haggard, Rider, 2 99-300 
Haldane, J. B. S., 24-25, 333-35, 343 
Hall, Asaph, 176 
Hardy, G. H., 345-46 
Hartenstein, Ludwig von, 52 
hate, 121 

Haushofer, Karl, 192, 254-55, 257-58, 
260, 262 

Hautch, Johann, 54 
Heard, Gerald, 18 



4 0 8 


NDEX 


Hedin, Sven, 272 
Heiden, Konrad, 254 
Heisenberg (physicist), 32, 351 
Helbronner, Andre, 92, 94 
Helmholtz, Heinrich, 7 — 8 
Helvetius, 86-87 
Henri IV, King, 70 
Hess, Rudolf, 257 
Heyde, S. S. Werner, 251 
Hielscher, Frederick, 272, 273-75 
Hilsch, 45 

Himmler, Heinrich, 201, 243, 262-64, 
267, 269, 270-71 
Hiroshima, 99, 157-58 
Hirt (professor), 273 
history, 6 0- 63, 166-70 
Hitler, Adolph, 143, 173, 179-81, 191, 
193, 194-95, 201-2, 225-26, 231- 
33, 237-39, 240-41, 243, 249 
Eckardt and, 253-54 
extermination orders of, 263-64 
as a medium, 256-58, 264-68 
on S.S., 271 

Hitler Unmasked, 17 9-80 
hollow Earth, 199,244-50 
Holmyard, E.J., 101 
Homer, 140-41 

Homo sapiens, 150 — 51 

Hopis, 138 

Horbiger, Hans, 199-203, 210, 22 1- 
22, 231-32 
Hoyle, Fred, 338 

Hugo, Victor, 178, 213, 219-20, 296 
Hutin, M. Serge, 25-26, 27 
Huxley, Aldous, 8, 18, 34, 35, 298 
hydrogen bombs, 60-63, 223 
hyperconsciousness, 2 7-28 


ice, 206-8, 222, 226, 231-32 
immortality, 26 
India, 36-37 

Inmost Light, The, 185 

insects, 291-92 

intelligence, 43-44, 12 0- 21,290-92, 
294, 331-32, 385-86 
intuition, 28 

inventions, 3-7, 31, 45-46, 51-60 

Jacolliot, 38-39, 40 
James, William, 391 
Jesuits, 170-71 
Jews, 170-71, 234 
Juares, 3 0 8-9 
Judaeo-Christians, 221 
Jung, Carl, 165, 174-75,203 
Jiinger, Ernest, 274 
Jungk, Robert, 30 
Jupiter, 2 0 6-7 

Kekule, Auguste, 301 
Kersten (doctor), 26 2-63 
Khrushchev, Nikita, 35 
Kiss (German archaeologist), 215 
knowledge, 4 3 - 4 4 , 6 5 - 6 6 , 115-16, 
118-31, 148 

Knowledge and Strength, 107 

Konig, Wilhelm, 156 

Krauss, Ernest, 259 

Krauss, John, 158 

Kreyssler (Austrian professor), 120 

Kuiper, Gerard S., 243 

Kurchatov, 24 

Labourdette, Jean-Henri, 48 
Langevin, Paul, 12, 380 



NDEX 


4 0 9 


language, 321-23 

Larteguy, Jean, 70-71 

Laughton, Anthony, 174 

Lavastine, Philippe, 33-34 

Layne, Al, 347-48 

Lebon (Frenchman), 51 

Lemuria, 140-41 

Lenin, Vladimir, 20 

Lenormand (author), 157 

Leucippus, 49 

leukemia, 3 8 9-90 

Levi-Strauss, M., 135 

Ley, Willy, 191-92, 206, 246, 269 

Liber Mundi, 30, 32 

libraries, 48, 55-56, 79-80 

light, 40, 318-19 

Lindner (doctot), 303 

Lineham, Daniel, 153 

Little, Wentworth, 193 

Lodge, Oliver Joseph, 11 

logic, 12 

Lords of Dzyan, 289 

Lorenz, Conrad, 289 

Louis XIV, King, 70 

love, 121, 178 

Lovecraft, H. P., 131, 302 

Lucretius, 50 

Lull, Raymond, 81 

Luminous Lodge, 192, 196-97 

Lytton, Bulwer, 192, 193, 247-48 

Machen, Arthur, 170, 182-83, 185-90, 
193 

machines, 312-13, 318-20, 325-28, 
355-57 

Mackay, Allan Lindsay, 351 
MacOrlan, Pierre, 281 


madness, 81-82 
Maeterlinck, 184-85 
magic, 46 — 47 
Malekulas, 216 
Malesherbes (minister), 34 
Mallery, Arlington H., 152-53 
man, 293-94 
Manet, Edouard, 41 

Man Who Was Thursday, The, 175-76 
Marcahuasi, 144-45 
Marconi, Guglielmo, 11 
Mark, Karl, 167 
Mars, 206 

Martian Chronicles, 23 6-37 
Martin, Charles-Noel, 286, 387 
Martineau, M., 183 
Marx, Karl, 18 

Mason, J. Alden, 136-37, 148 

materialism, 10, 12, 335 

mathematics, 291-92, 322-23, 377-79 

Mathers, S. L., 189, 194, 196 

matter, 25, 74, 76, 88, 89 

Maupassant, Guy de, 394 

Maurois, Andre, 16-17 

Mausola Purva, 155 — 56 

Mayans, 21 

Mayas, 146-47, 380 

Medea, 54 

medicine, 58 

memory, 28 

Menetrier (Doctor), 57 

metallurgy, 56-57 

Meyerson, Emile, 340 

Meyrinck, Gustav, 368-73 

Michelson-Morley experiment, 249 

microbiology, 40 

Milky Way, 136 



4 1 0 


NDEX 


Miller, Henry, 18 

Millikan, 45 

mines, 55, 58-59 

LL mesons, 15 

modern civilization, 25 

modernism, 30 

monarchies, 69-70 

Monsieur du Paur, 183 

Montagut, Emile, 34 

Montluisant, Esprit Gobineau de, 84 

Moon, 206, 207-8, 210-18, 285 

Morand, Paul, 135-36, 138 

Mosley, Oswald, 261 

Moufang (researcher), 301 

Mousset, Paul, 71 

Mundy, Talbot, 39 

Musil, Robert, 225, 228-29 

mutation, 193, 19 4-95,385-98,400 

Nagasaki, 157-58 
Napoleon III, 7 
natural science, 35 — 36 
nature, 28-29, 318 
Nazca, 148 

Nazis and Nazism, 171-73, 191-92, 

194-97, 228-29, 235-36, 267-72, 
275-77. See also Hitler, Adolph 
neutrinos, 88 
neutrons, 13, 110-11 
Newcomb, Simon, 4, 11, 45 
New Guinea, 159-60 
Newton, Isaac, 28-29, 50, 84-85 
Nine Unknown Men, 36-38, 40 
Nobecourt, M., 251-52 
nuclear energy, 56,91,94-96, 110-12, 
157-58, 217-18 
Numinor, 143 


Oberth (professor), 253 
occultism, 26, 255 
Odyssey, 14 0-41 
Oersted, 52 
Olds, J. B., 338 

On the Military Uses of Atomic Energy, 

98 

Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 24, 26, 99, 
342,398 

Orlov, Vladimir, 26 
Ossendovski, 259 
Ouspensky, P. D., 191 

Outline of World History, 37 

Owen, Walter, 157 

Pange, Jean de, 255 
Papin, Denis, 53 
paranormal cures, 302-3 
parapsychology, 297-306 
Parcelsus, Theophrastes, 81 
Paris, France, 25.-26 
Parr, Florence, 190 
past, 14-15 

Pauli, Wolfgang, 33, 103, 174-75 

Pauwels, Louis, 363 — 66 

Penfield, Warren, 315-16 

penicillin, 53-54 

perpetual lamps, 31 

Pharoahs, 140 

philosopher's stone, 109-10 

physics, 12-13, 15-16, 60, 112 

physiology, 39 

phytotherapy, 59-60 

Picabia, 41 

Pilema, 59 

plague, 39 

Planck, 24, 340 



INDEX 


plants, 57-58, 134 

Plato, 140-41, 219 

Plotinus, 227 

Plutarch, 50 

Poe, Edgar, 5-6 

Poincare, Henri, 8-9 

Point Omega, 330, 375 

politics, 45, 226 

Pontecorvo, 24 

Popul Vuh, 153 

Porta, Giambattista della, 81 

Positivists, 11 

Power-House, The, 6 4-69 

present, 25 

Pressey, Sydney, 386 

Price, Morton, 6 

protons, 13, 110-11 

psychic ability, 297-303 

psychology, 15-16, 27-28, 307-12 

Pyramids, 140-42 

Pythagoras, 50 

Quipu, 137-38 

Rabelais, 89 
racism, 2 31-35 

radiation and radioactivity, 15, 27, 40, 
150,387-90 

Ramanujan, 344-46, 353-54 
Rao, Rajah, 26 

Rape of the Masses, The, 39 

Rathenau, Henri, 165 
rationalists, 12 

Rauschning, Hermann, 181, 194-95, 
226, 231-32, 255-56, 267, 268 
Ray, M. Marcel, 180-81 
reality, 11-12, 44 


reason, 11 

redemption, 225 

Reichenbach, 3 

Reis, Piri, 152-53 

religion, 10, 290 

Renan, Ernst, 10 

Renard, Maurice, 169 

Return of Doctor O'Grady, The, 

16-17 
Rivarol, 54 
Riviere, Jacques, 165 
Robertson, Morgan, 30 0 
Roisel, 56 

Romains, Jules, 296-98 
Roncevaux, Roland de, 34 
Roper, Trevor, 241 
Rosenberg, Alfred, 253-54 
Rosicrucian Brethren, 25, 28-31. See 
also Golden Dawn 
Rossi, Bruno, 103 
Rostand, M. Jean, 111 
Rougemont, Denis de, 266 
Roussel, H. N., 20 6 
Russell (Lord), 171-72 
Rutherford, 45 
Ruzo, Daniel, 144-45 

Saint-Bonnet, Blanc de, 34, 290 
Samadhi, 379 
Sartre, Jean -Paul, 6 0-63 
Saturn, 110-12,206, 219 
Saurat, M. Denis, 224, 230 
Sawade, Fritz, 251 
saxifrage, 166 — 67 
Schneider, Reinhold, 269-70 
Schneider, Rudy, 255 
Schneider, Willy, 255 



4 1 2 


INDEX 


Schrenk-Notzing (spiritualist), 255 
Schrodter, Willy, 300 
Schwarz, Berthold, 103-4 
Schweitzer, Johann-Friedrich, 86 — 87 
Schwenter (author), 52 
science, 3, 6-7, 10, 12 
alchemy and, 76 
attacks against, 199-203 
barriers of, 45 

dangerous nature of, 157 — 59 
freedom to disbelieve, 115-16 
history and, 47-60 
spiritual Universe and, 32 
technique and, 42 
See also natural science 
Science and the Hypothesis, 8 
Scourge of the Swastika, The, 171-72 
Seabrook, William, 135 
secrecy, 42 

secret socieries, 25, 29-30, 63-64, 
69-70, 189-90, 194, 196-98, 
252-53 

Shakespeare, William, 296 

Shamballah, 261, 276 

Shapley, Harlow, 286 

Shaw, Bernard, 187 

Shiel, M. P., 176-77 

Shipley, Maynard, 118-19 

Sievers, Wolfram, 261-62, 272 

Singleton (professor), 343 

sleep, 334 

Smyth, H. D., 98 

Smyth, Piazzi, 140 

Soal, J. S., 300 

Sobieski, Jean, 52 

socialism, 20 

sociology, 17-22 


Socrates, 295-96 
Soddy, Frederick, 95, 154 
Sorel, Albert, 34 
Soter, Ptolemy, 48 
space, 14-15 
Spence, Lewis, 270 
Spinoza, 87 

spiritualism, 10, 335, 336-37 
S.S., 267-72 
Stair, Ralph, 287 
Standen, Anthony, 35 
stars, 290-91 
Steiner, Rudolph, 197-98 
Stern, Philip van Doren, 186 
Stevens (researcher), 301 
strangeness quantum number, 12-13 
Strasser, 256 
Strobl, Karl Hans, 300 
Sulsbach, Eck de, 54 
Sun, 7-8, 138-39, 205-7 
super-consciousness, 331-32, 334, 
336-44 

desire for images and, 353-54 
illustrations of, 343-53 
machines and, 355 — 57 
testimonies of, 35 8-73 
surrealism, 374 — 75 
swastikas, 257-58 
Sylvester II, Pope, 38 
symbols, 327-30 
Symnes, Americ Vespucius, 

246-47 

Symnes, Cleves, 246-47 
synchronism, 175-76 

Taine, Hippolyte, 10 
Tardin, Jean, 51 



NDEX 


4 1 3 


Tarski (mathematician), 377 
Tchocotine, Serge, 39 
technique, 42, 63 
Teed, Cyrus Read, 247 
telecommunications, 31 
telepathy, 138-39,393-95 
Teller (scientist), 250 
Temple, William, 326 
Terman, Lewis, 386 
terrace ofBaalbeck, 288 
Tesla, Nikola, 44-45 
Thales, 50 
Thayer, Tiffany, 119 
Theophrastus, 54 
Theosophical Society, 197-98 
Thibaud, M. Jean, 91 
third eye, 120 
Thomson, J. Ford, 385 
Thule Group, 194, 196-97, 
253-63 

Tiahuanaco, 145, 214-16, 217, 

229 

Tibet, 217 
time, 14-15, 400 

Time of the Assassins, The, 34 
Titanic, 300 

Toltecs, 145-46,216 
Toulet, Paul Jean, 182-85 
toxodons, 215 

transmutation, 31-32, 40, 86-90, 
91-92, 111-12 

Tribune des Nations, 17 9-80 

Turgot (minister), 34 
Twain, Mark, 125 

ultimate weapons, 61 — 63 
Ulysses, 247 


UNESCO, 35-36 
United States, 18, 20, 71-72 
Universe, 7-9, 32, 204-9, 226-27, 241, 
325, 375-76, 391 
Unknown Supermen, 193 
uranium, 96 
Uranus, 219 
U.S.S.R., 18-19 

Valentin, Basil, 81 

Valery, Paul, 343, 375 

Valois, Nicolas de, 83-84 

Value of Science, The, 8 

Van Helmont, Johann-Baptiste, 81 

Vanished Civilizations, 44 

Van Voght, 393, 398 

Varga, Eugene, 18-20 

Vasto, Lanza del, 34 

Verhaeghe, Oscar, 396-97 

Verne, Jules, 6, 39 

Verrill, Hyatt, 147-48 

Vigenere, Blaise, 81, 83 

Vries, Hugo de, 388 

Vril Society, 192 

waking, 334-35 
Walter, Gray, 338-39 
war, threat of, 71-72 
Washburn, 150 
Weisman, A., 388 
Welikovski (author), 227 
Wells, H. G., 4, 5-6, 23, 32, 37, 182, 
291, 338 

Wessel, Horst, 260 
Whyte, L. L., 351 
Wiener, Norbert, 23, 302 
Wilson, Charles, 283 



414 INDEX 

Winsor (Englishman), 51 
Winterich, John, 118 
Wolf, Louis, 38 8-89 
Work in Crumbs, 19 
Worth, C. Brooke, 385-86 


Yeats, W. B., 189-90 
Yersin, 39 

Zimanski (scientist), 289 
zone fusion, 80 



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LOUIS PAUWELS (1920-1 997) was a French journalist who founded the magazine 
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